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Rinjin 13-gô (2005)
Solid and disturbing hidden gem about a troubled psycho
I'm happy to have caught this one at the International Rotterdam film festival 2005 a few months ago. I actually enjoyed myself very much. It was a special screening which the director joined and introduced with a nice little speech. He basically said that a lot of film festivals rejected it because of its harsh violence and that Rotterdam is the first to be open to it. In other words; I was in for a big treat.
All in all, the movie isn't overtly violent. However, that doesn't take away that it's very good debut of the director, not to mention a good adaptation of a manga. It's a nice slow paced psychological movie that toys with the troubles of a man who has suffered a lot in his younger years and is now living with the after effects. It's a very dark movie with horror and drama elements about a young man being tormented and teased most of his younger school years. Years later, he has taken refuge in his little house where he has bad dreams, fantasies and is alone a lot. Then he gets a new job at a construction site and some new neighbors: turns out that the man of the family moving is his new employer and is fact, the same guy who used to make his life miserable. To make it short, it's payback time, but not a Kill Bill, Sin City type payback with slashing, one-liners and lots of action (which is also good btw), but a more slow-paced and build-up, tensed, psychological and slow payback. This approach proves to be very effective for the themes the movies tries to flow along: teen abuse, trauma, social pressure. The movie turns out to be an interesting study of human behavior and social schizophrenia. btw, The alter ego or second personality of the young guy is one of the scariest mo-fo's ever on screen, mentally but definitely physically, up there with the likes of Freddy Kruger, Hannibal, and whatnot. Horrific? Think of a very very very very scary looking guy you never wanna meet in this life or the next, that has been tormented most of his life and is completely immune to any moral, social of ethical code. It gets pretty horrific from there.
After the movie there was a short Q&A session with the director in which we could ask questions. The crowd wasn't too anxious and due to the bad information provided by the organization, half the audience was already gone. Regarding the violence, he thinks that a lot of people rejected the movie not because of the 'goryness' or explicit images of the violence but more because of the type of violence, the effects and motivations of that violence and the effects of it. I couldn't totally see that in the movie: a lot of the violent image are disturbing in a surreal sense, not so much in a shocking sense.
It's a shame that the people who control what we can and cannot see in theaters and festivals are passing up this film, and to be honest, I don't really get it. I can give you 25 other movies which are much more violent. But it probably has to do more with the realness of it all. Either way, I hope that after the release in homeland Japan, second of April, the movie will get more attention and hopefully this hidden gem will get a wider release across the globe.