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The murder of Emili, a young girl, leaves the inhabitants of a small Japanese village in shock. The body of Emily is found by the four classmates with whom she was playing. The murder is never solved. Emili's mother Asako (Kyoko Koizumi) is torn by grief and puts a curse on the four girls when they claim that they don't remember the killer's face. Each of the girls, in their own way, will do their penance for their silence. Deeply struck by the words of Asako and burdened with her curse, the four girls are forced into adulthood which eventually triggers a tragic chain of events. Written by
Well, we finally get to see something from Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Here's an introduction from the J-Film-Pow-Wow website:
"It was only a few days ago that I was looking at my DVD shelf and my eyes stopped on Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Tokyo Sonata" (2008). I remember when that film had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and critics were hailing it as one of Kurosawa's masterpieces. Then . . . nothing. Kurosawa continued to teach at Tokyo's University of the Arts' Film School, but no new projects from him came to light. Well, that's about to change, although maybe not for us here in North America, at least not yet. Let me explain.
According to Tokyograph Kurosawa has directed a series based on the work of novelist Kanae Minato. Minato's name doesn't ring a bell? It should. Tetsuya Nakashima's "Confessions" was based on Minato's 2008 novel of the same name. Due to the success of that adaptation Kurosawa was brought in by the folks at WOWOW to not only direct but also write the screenplay for a screen adaptation of Mintao's 2009 novel "Shokuzai." "Shokuzai" tells a story eerily similar to "Confessions" in which a mother blames four students for not being able to identify the murderer of her daughter 15 years before. The story is also eerie enough to put in the hands of Kurosawa, that man who brought us such landmark J-Horror films as "Cure" and "Pulse." The biggest problem for Kurosawa fans is that WOWOW will be broadcasting "Shokuzai" on Japanese TV in January. There is no word at all if the film will see a DVD release anytime in North America, but given that Kurosawa's 2000 film "Séance" was a made-for-TV project there is hope that we'll eventually get to see "Shokuzai."
My Review In One Breath: Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns in top form with this television mini-series (5 episodes, 50-75 minutes each). 15 years after a little girl is raped and murdered, her mother and four of her childhood friends deal with the emotional consequences. Each episode focuses on one character at a time, which gives the actresses ample screen time to make their contributions. And let me tell you, there is some serious acting talent on display here: Kyoko Koizumi ("Tokyo Sonata"), Yu Aoi ("Don't Laugh At My Romance"), Eiko Koike ("2LDK"), Sakura Ando ("Love Exposure"), and Chizuru Ikewaki ("Oishi Man") all have significant roles. As expected from this director, the camera-work is outstanding, there is heavy emphasis on psychology, and subtle character mannerisms are expertly utilized to create suspicion and uncertainty.
There are three other things to keep in mind regarding "Shokuzai." 1. This series fits comfortably within the "drama" genre, not the "horror" genre. 2. The characters are developed very well. 3. This not a tale of revenge. The mother of the victim refuses to forgive the girls (now grown up) for not being able to identify the murderer, but she does not seek vengeance. The plot basically shows how the women were psychologically affected by the traumatic incident in their childhood.
Strongly recommended for fans of Kiyoshi.
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