CONFESSIONS. 2010. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TETSUYA NAKASHIMA. STARRING TAKAKO MATSU. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is undoubtedly a superior film in the genre of ‘revenge,’ but it’s darned uncomfortable to watch because most of the protagonists are thirteen-year-old kids. In fact, it’s the kids against whom all the revenge stuff is being carried out. I’ve never actually seen a film before in which minors came in for such a psychological pounding. Still, I suppose you learn something new every day, don’t you…?
The beautiful and infinitely self-possessed Takako Matsu, whom I would love to watch again in other films, is the star of the movie and the one carrying out all the revenge. She plays a teacher in a Japanese middle school, in which most of the action takes place.
The teacher, Miss Moriguchi, has suffered much in her young life. The father of her child has recently passed away from cancer, though he was already dying from an AIDS-related illness. That’s enough suffering to be going on with, surely…? The fates have clearly decreed otherwise…
Tragically, her four-year-old daughter is also recently deceased. The police have deemed her death to be an unfortunate drowning accident, but the little girl’s mother knows differently. She knows that her child was callously murdered by two boys in her class for reasons of their own. Referring to the boys as Student A and Student B, she relates the story of the child’s death (as she feels it happened) to the boys’ class.
When she finishes her macabre little story-telling session with the revelation that she has injected the boys’ lunchtime milk with the HIV-infected blood of her child’s father, both the horrified schoolchildren and the viewers get the feeling that this determined little lady’s campaign of vengeance is only just gathering steam. And we’re not wrong.
In her attempts to get the guilty boys to admit their culpability and express remorse for their crimes, the angelic-looking Miss Moriguchi has many more tricks up her elegant sleeve. Is she right, though, the viewer wonders (well, all right then, I wondered!), to go to such extreme lengths to punish what, after all, are only two children for their crime against another child…? Morally, it’s kind of a hard question. Maybe one of the hardest.
While there’s no doubt that what Miss Moriguchi suffered was something that no parent should ever have to go through, the gradual disintegration of the guilty boys’ lives as a direct result of her campaign of psychological warfare-slash-torture is excruciating to watch.
One boy’s heartbreaking relationship with the mother who abandoned him is laid painfully bare while the other boy’s descent into virtual insanity (because he thinks he has AIDS) is distressing to watch. No matter how often I yelled at the screen to the second boy’s mother to ‘Get that child some medical help NOW, you dozy woman…!,’ she never did. What happened as a result was all the sadder because it was so darned unnecessary. If only people in films would listen to me more. I actually give quite good advice…
In fact, the roads traversed by both minors only leads to further murders, madness and mayhem. The climax of Miss Moriguchi’s campaign is particularly shocking. Every one of the- mostly very young- cast acts their socks off to form the various threads of this revenge movie into a strong and cohesive unit.
The film is hard work to follow at times but the pay-off is worth it. I drove the friend with whom I watched it a bit crazy at times, though, with my incessant questions every time the narrative viewpoint changed, which it did frequently:
‘Who’s this guy, now? Is this the same guy as the other guy? No, not that guy, the first guy, the one who did that thing! What’s happening now? Is this a flashback? Is it happening now or before the other thing that happened? What’s he got there? There, in his hand, look! When’s the teacher coming back into it? Is this a dream or is it really happening? No, wait, it must be really happening because- No, wait, it’s a fantasy! Who’s this, now? I thought he was dead! He did die, didn’t he…?’
And so on and so forth. In hindsight, it’s a wonder my friend didn’t punch me in the nose. I couldn’t help it, though. The film was quite confusing at times, and the occasional fantasy sequence or surreal scene didn’t help to clarify matters much.
There’s a catchy soundtrack going on in the background that includes songs by Radiohead, and if you like your films scattered throughout with gorgeous views of Monet-style vanilla skies, you’ll be as happy as Larry with CONFESSIONS.
It’s not an easy film to watch- or even follow at times, haha!- but I think it’s worth any trouble you might take with it. Happy viewing, my movie-loving friends. Happy viewing…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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