- 1h 30min
A man gets involved in a kidnapping scheme with the wife of a wealthy businessman. She lets herself be tied up and confined in his house while he sends the ransom demand. When he returns hom... Read allA man gets involved in a kidnapping scheme with the wife of a wealthy businessman. She lets herself be tied up and confined in his house while he sends the ransom demand. When he returns home that night, however, he finds her laying dead on the floor. In a panic he buries her bod... Read allA man gets involved in a kidnapping scheme with the wife of a wealthy businessman. She lets herself be tied up and confined in his house while he sends the ransom demand. When he returns home that night, however, he finds her laying dead on the floor. In a panic he buries her body deep in the woods and tries to return to his ordinary life. One day, he thinks he spots ... Read all
"Chaos" starts off seemingly with a nod to "High and Low" (1963) - an industrialist dealing with a kidnapping - but soon you realize this film worries not about complex moral ambiguities. Instead, "Chaos" has more in common with American film noir from the 1940s and '50s than anything by Kurosawa. Director Nakata and writer Hisashi Saito (adapting a novel by Shogo Utano) also adopt a Hitchcockian feel, borrowing rather generously from "Vertigo" (1958).
"Chaos" owes more to film noir in story than in style. We have the hoodwinked sap, manipulative femme fatale and rich husband, who might harbor his own secret. The performances are uniformly good, especially Miki Nakatani as the object of desire who knows exactly how to play the men in her life and does it to perfection.
This is a well-done, deceptive thriller that relies on a tightly wound plot to keep us guessing. What's gratifying is the characters seem to be on the verge of erupting into violence. There's always that sense of dread; we never know when something or someone will turn deadly. The film is smartly plotted, though there's one glaring plot point - involving the husband's sister - that isn't satisfactorily answered. In fact, I'm not quite sure why it was included.
But "Chaos" remains an intriguing film. To deceive us for as long as possible, because nothing is what it seems in this film, Nakata unravels his mystery in nonlinear fashion, never telling us when flashbacks are about to happen. Although this might confuse some viewers (though it shouldn't), the nonlinear structure isn't merely a gimmick. It works perfectly and, frankly, there's no other way this story could have been told as effectively. "Chaos" trusts its audience to keep up with the twists and turns - and there are many - and how refreshing that is.
Of course, because "Chaos" was a successful Japanese film and remaking newer Asian films is the rage in Hollywood, director Jonathan Glazer is remaking "Chaos," in the footsteps of two other remakes of Nakata films - "Ringu" (1998) and "Dark Water" (2002), which will be at your local multiplex early next year starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly and John C. Reilly. Although no official announcement has been made, it's perfectly clear Hollywood studios are now utterly devoid of original ideas and stories. Robert De Niro is to star in the "Chaos" remake, and as brilliant an actor as he is (though he has been phoning it in the last few years), I can't see how Glazer could possibly improve on the original.
- Oct 6, 2004