Wednesday, 4 December 2013

JAPANESE MOVIE FESTIVAL REVIEW: SAMURAI LAST NIGHT



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When Kenichi’s wife dies in hit and run accident his life is broken. Five years later the man responsible for the accident, Kijima, is out of the prison. Kenichi decides his wife’s killer deserves death sentence, so he starts sending him threatening notes, promising to kill him on the day his wife’s death anniversary. Kijima knows who is sending the notes and in his own turn starts blackmailing Kenichi’s brother in law. No one believes that Kenichi can really go through with his revenge, but as final night is approaching the tension is building and the lives of both men unravel towards it in a tragic way - as senseless and spontaneous as the accident itself that scarred their lives. Will they have any future beyond this last night?

SAMURAI LAST NIGHT is inhabited by little people with broken pride. Each of them deals with it in his own way, fighting loneliness, fear and loss with every mean available to them, even if it requires threats and intimidation. The protagonist Kenichi is a perfect Dostoyevsky character - an insignificant man who is punched around, but who is starting to rise from his knees, slowly finding a way to deal with his loss. 

Film is episodically shot, dividing time between Kenichi and Kijima almost evenly. We understand Kenichi better but we are embarrassed by his behaviour and indecisiveness. We learn what a spiteful creature Kijima is. We learn to hate him, but does he deserve to die?

While every form of art is a form of manipulation it doesn’t become one until you feel being manipulated. Unfortunately SAMURAI THAT NIGHT makes you feel exactly that - you can almost feel the strings attached to your joints and when they are pulled its not a nice feeling. The movie also is a about twenty minutes too long.

The final scene of fighting in the mud in the pouring rain is definitely a nod to classic Akira Kurosawa - SEVEN SAMURAI. Unfortunately this is the only comparison found here to the work of the great master.

SAMIRAI LAST NIGHT would have hit a better mark if it wasn’t so slow and so manipulative. Although I found the ending satisfying one has to be very patient and determined to watch long enough to get to it.

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