A savage and surgically precise critique of Japanese political practice
It shouldn't take the viewer long to work out that the fictional Osakan University hospital at the centre of Satsuo Yamamoto's outstanding film is Japan in microcosm: with its corrupt and self-serving elite and its distrust of democracy, meritocracy and change. The nation and its people are the cancer ridden bodies, still trusting the God like authority of their doctors.
The film opens with real footage of a 30cm scalpel incision on an old man's stomach. The flesh is peeled back to reveal a soup of guts and innards. It is clear that the director is not going to hide anything from us in the next 150 minutes.
The fine ensemble cast ensures that the drama is real and the script keeps the compelling narrative to the fore. The film never feels didactic or preachy and only in the character of Dr Satomi (Takahiro Tamura) do we have any cypher of idealism.
Crisply shot and edited, the same source material was later used for an anodyne, apolitical and predictable TV drama.
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