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aka - Fukushu Suruwa Ware Ni Ari
Japan 1979
Directed by
Shohei Imamura
139 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Vengeance Is Mine

Shôhei Imamura has a predilection for marginalized characters and this outstanding study of a serial killer, based on an award-winning novel by Saki Ryuzo which was in turn based on real events that occurred in Japan the early 1960s, fits the bill.

The killer's alienated state is attributed to his upbringing in a repressive, ostracized Catholic environment and his relationship with his God-fearing father. Murder becomes the final taboo and is carried out impersonally but with animalistic frenzy (the depiction of the first two murders are remarkable).

The world Imamura depicts as we follow the killer's run from the law is a near-Dickensian one of baseness seething beneath the surface of respectable society. The story is composed by interlocking flashbacks,structured with inter-titles and finishes with an enigmatic epilogue that appears to refers to traditional Japanese beliefs about the spirit world. This is much longer than it  needs to be but is certainly one of the best films dealing with this grisly topic.




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