The beauty of the movie is in the simplicity of its narrative...
First off, I would be remiss if I did not state that due to the absence of a 9.5 this gets a mere 9 out of 10.
The IMDb plot outline given is not very good. The story follows two men, Nango, a prison guard at retirement age, and Migami an ex-con released due to time served with good behavior. These two men have banded together to prove the innocence of a prisoner who has been wrongly detained.
The movie uses the plot as a means to showcase the thoughts and feelings of the two protagonists who in turn are merely vehicles to flesh out certain key themes such as revenge, murder, forgiveness, and absolution. The beauty is that it is all boils down to how everyone reacts to murder, how it affects the victim and the victimizer.
The movie is quiet, with unique choices for ambient music, and often no music at all, scenery is beautiful as it takes largely outside, whereas the indoor scenes have a way of keeping the focus on the characters and their dialog.
Of course the story is more complicated than I have laid out, but it is largely a character driven piece, much more than a mystery. Rarely do you find a movie where each and every character is human and honest. You can relate and sympathize with everyone, for as protagonist Shoji Nango points out, everyone has had the wish to murder someone. The movie is about those who cross the line, and how you aren't bad for making a mistake if only you can find the heart and strength to forgive yourself.
This is a great movie, not much buzz was around this movie, but I did eagerly await it once I heard about it. The acting and direction are top notch, especially on Sorimachi and Yamazaki's part. The pacing issues are negligible, but once you get past the possibly slow start, you are in a for a sheerly amazing film.
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