Tanaka and Mitsuko are brother and sister who are trying to reconcile their terrible past. When Mitsuko is imprisoned for neglecting her baby daughter, Tanaka throws himself into the investigation of a terrifying murder case. A family of three has been slaughtered a year ago and the culprit is still at large. Interviewing one person after another, looking for a hidden clue that could be a motive for the murder, Tanaka slowly but gradually approaches the terrifying truth...
TRACES OF SIN is a labyrinthine movie that examines many characters who represent many levels of the social ladder in Japanese society. Focusing on the lives of the outcasts and the choices they have to make to adapt, the story slowly unravels the motives behind the crime, leading to some spectacular revelations.
There could have been much gore in the film, but the filmmakers have chosen to “tell” rather than “to show”, focusing on the characters’ emotions instead. This creates far more unsettling moments than buckets of blood ever could.
On the acting front, Satoshi Tsumabuki’s performance of the damaged and secretive Tanaka carries the film forward and serves as a link between the many storylines and flashbacks of the movie.
TRACES OF SIN is a typically Japanese dramatic storytelling, devoid of action, a slow burner and it takes all your attention to put the pieces together. The film requires concentration and will benefit from multiple viewings, although the slowness with which the story is unfolding may turn away some viewers. Not all the answers are given in the end, but it is an ending that delivers multiple twists that are well worth the time.