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Hirokazu Kureda Explores Childhood Solitude – The Hollywood Reporter


after making the truth in France and mediator In South Korea, Hirokazu Kore-eda returns to a Japanese-language project for the first time since he was rightly praised thieves Five years ago, he was working with another screenwriter for the first time since his 1995 debut, Maborosi. Many of the recurring themes of the peerless humanists appear in Monster (Kaibutsu) – loss, isolation, the elusive nature of happiness, and the struggles of imperfect families – viewed through the imposition of a somewhat multiple perspective RashomonFlexible prism. The director’s usual delicacy, empathy, and sensitivity permeate through the drama, though moments of poignant illumination are more sporadic than cumulative.

With its fragmentary exploration of childhood bullying, stigma, peer pressure, and homophobia, as well as the lifespan of its young protagonists, Monster He vaguely remembers the Belgian director Lucas Donnet Close From last year, albeit with more restraint and less emotion, for better or worse. It is in many ways a depressing film, not entirely emotionally satisfying, but its underlying gloom, pierced by poignant images of the solace of friendship, makes it worthwhile.


bottom line

Delivers at the end but takes a long time to get there.

placeCannes Film Festival (Competition)
ejaculate: Sakura Ando, ​​Eita Nagayama, Soya Kukawa, Hinata Hiiragi, Yoko Tanaka
exit: Hirokazu Kure Ida
screenwriter: Yuji Sakamoto

2 hours 6 minutes

The film opens with a raging fire lighting up the night sky, destroying a building in a small provincial town (the unknown location is lakeside Suwa in Nagano Prefecture). One floor of the building houses a host bar, and the rumored presence there that night of a new teacher at a local elementary school, Mr. Hori (Eita Nagayama), deepens the shadow he casts through much of the narrative.

Saori Saori Close (Sakura Ando, ​​from thieves) watches with her young son Minato (Soya Kurokawa) from the balcony of their apartment as fire trucks converge on the scene. Saori is a sharp-edged but loving mother who subsists on modest means; She encourages Minato to honor the memory of his late father, dabbling with his imaginative questions about reincarnation.

There is a disturbing – if not intentional – dark side to the early scenes as Minato is late returning from school and a panicked Saori finds him behaving strangely, wandering a windy colander in the woods and muttering the refrain singing, “Who’s the beast?” Slightly injured, by homeroom teacher Mr. Hori for his apparent disposition in class, she descends into the school in a cold rage, demanding answers.

A thread running through Yuki Sakamoto’s original screenplay shows how traditional Japanese reticence can obfuscate the truth, whether out of formality, shame, or a desire to spare someone’s feelings. This comes through with powerfully rambunctious scenes as a smoldering Saori confronts the carefully composed headmistress, Fushimi (Yuko Tanaka), a generous elderly woman who recently lost her grandson in tragic circumstances. She admits the school’s responsibility, but reveals little about reading the prepared statements before walking away leaving Saori to deal with three guys at the college.

When Hori humbly apologizes, first directly to Saori and then to the assembled 5th graders’ parents, it seems like it’s over. But the shift in Saori’s perspective to Hori reveals that the situation isn’t quite so simple, which raises questions about Minato’s relationship with another student, Yori (Hinata Hiragi). This child is a frequent target of class bullying, as he is being raised by his divorced father, a would-be drunk.

Sakamoto’s screenplay builds simple intrigue by implying that teachers feel quietly crucified, taking the blame for false transgressions to keep parents at bay and avoid retaliation from the board of education. This is echoed by rumors that Fushimi preserved her professional reputation by scapegoating her husband in the death of their grandson.

It is only in the final section, which shifts back to Minato’s perspective, that the exact nature of the two boys’ bond becomes clear. This extended segment is the most direct and most effective part of the drama, balancing Minato’s affection for the odd and insistently cheerful Yuri with the need to keep his distance from the school to avoid rejection himself.

In one sweet scene, Principal Fushimi and Minato warily unload themselves toward each other, providing valuable insight into the social restrictions on both adults and children. But primarily in the breaks of the shelter Minato and Yuri share, wandering in the woods or lounging in an abandoned train carriage there, the boys find refuge and the film transcends its cumbersome structure to convey the sympathy and tenderness characteristic of the Kore-eda.

The performances are beautiful across the board, and you reap the rewards from the director’s unquestionable skill in working with children. The visuals are unattractive and natural but have emotional resonance in the images such as the two friends jogging joyfully across a sun-dappled expanse of green. The drama is complemented by gentle piano riffs and occasional unison horns by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, to whom the film, his latest project, is dedicated.

Monster It’s not a major entry for Kore-eda, and no doubt it bars quite a bit of action, but for fans of the director’s films, there’s a treat to be found.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.