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Angel Dust (1994)

Enjeru dasuto (original title)
Every Monday at 6 pm a young woman is murdered in the subway. The psychiatrist Setsuko Suma is called in to assist the police. The trail leads to another psychiatrist - Dr Rei Aku - who ... See full summary »


(as Sogo Ishii)


(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Sogo Ishii)
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Kaho Minami ...
Setsuko Suma
Takeshi Wakamatsu ...
Rei Aku
Etsushi Toyokawa ...
Ryoko Takizawa ...
Yuki Takei
Masayuki Shionoya
Toshinori Kondo
Yukio Yamato
Jin Akiyama
Tomorowo Taguchi


Every Monday at 6 pm a young woman is murdered in the subway. The psychiatrist Setsuko Suma is called in to assist the police. The trail leads to another psychiatrist - Dr Rei Aku - who Setsuko used to date. As she get closer to the solution, she gets more and more convinced that Aku's deprogramming of former sectmembers is important. Written by Mattias Sandstrm <d92-mas@nada.kth.se>

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Release Date:

24 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Angel Dust  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

10 October 2002 | by (Oakland, California) – See all my reviews

"Angel Dust" starts with macroscopic shots of nighttime Tokyo. Seemingly endless but ingenious montage, somewhat as if Teshigahara tried to do a megalopolis, drops us gradually to a single subway station, then to a single female figure just as she falls. Precisely the bit of screen occupied by this fall becomes the mouth of a cave. The next cut is to spelunkers, but, if only because I'd just finished the "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" section of Rubin's monograph on Murakami, I felt for a half a second as if the subway victim had slipped down a surreal hole in the platform. There's a hole, too, later, in the b/w dialog of the re-brainwash patient. Since Murakami's also author of the interview tomes abridged here as "Underground", it's necessary to note this film's dated 1994. The final Aum incident hit March 1995. Even if you've seen "Angel Dust," it might pay to watch just after a reading of "Underground." Director Sogo Ishii at a PFA appearance a year or two ago expressed some embarrassment over his film's prescience. Mt. Fuji appears three or four times in the film, filling nearly the whole screen like a national marker, a reminder. I don't pretend to know of what, but the final time, nearly the film's last shot, Fuji's an ominously dark pre-dawn silhouette.

A little after that first killing, much of the city now aware of the subway serial killer, one of a couple of wise-guy salary men (or maybe they're plainclothesmen, doesn't matter) asks the other, "If you were the killer, who here would you pick?" "Her!" The camera zooms to his choice. Cut to a news sheet photo of the same face. He picked the next victim! What were the odds? But he's nobody, not even a red herring, just a dope. Here the film crosses Stanislaw Lem's "The Investigation." Was there really something about the victim? Or did ninety-nine other such dopes, elsewhere in the subway system guess wrongly? Still later, our protagonist, Setsuko, picks a subsequent victim and, in a scene echoed by the concert night murder in "...Lily Chou Chou ," pursues her through throngs heading toward a domed entertainment venue. Did Setsuko really psych the killer, or did the killer simply comply this time with her choice? Setsuko's ex, Aku: "There's not always a single answer. Some people look only for a unique answer." Again, this is Lem territory.

Setsuko is an odd, very careful concoction: bobbed hair, little suits always buttoned, nearly always a wide-eyed straight ahead gaze. I tried to catch her blinking. No luck. If you think you recognize her new-age-y husband, he's both the funnily wise friend from "Love Letter" and the self-defeatingly compliant husband from "Undo." Angel Dust's music is perfect, perfectly synched, percussive, modern, vaguely traditional.

Another touchpoint? "Pygmalion," any version. Setsuko is Liza. Her Higgins is an enigma. I don't know whether he's evil. Ishii also directed "The Crazy Family," which could be point three in a four point progression beginning with whichever Ozu you choose, proceeding to "The Family Game,"and ending, at least for the moment, with "Visitor Q."

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