You can't fault the acting talent, and certainly not helmsmanship of veteran director Kon Ichikawa - his final film in a strong output. But this whodunit, which concentrates on family fortune and revenge, is also a surprisingly awkward film, lacking the finesse of even a modest work like, say, the engaging DORA HEITA. The timing and editing seems slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) off, with sequences framed in a way that defeats the film's subtly comic edge.
The acting talent is, overall, quite strong, highlighted by the lovely Nanako Matsushima (THE RING, GTO) and commanding Sumiko Fuji (of the celebrated Peony Gambler series). And once the film gets going, the mystery becomes more perplexing and comes into its own. But it's certainly not one of Ichikawa's more assured works.
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