Thursday, July 12, 2012


Eiga Sai 2012
Shang Cineplex, Cinema 4

This bleak melodrama is based on a hugely popular 2007 novel. Yuichi is a construction worker who goes into hiding after, in a fit of rage, he murders Yoshino, a girl he met on a dating site. Incidentally, he also meets Mitsuyo, a shy girl who works at a shop selling coats. Despite knowing that Yuichi is a wanted criminal, she decides to run off with him.

The director leaves little doubt in the minds of the audience about who’s guilty, he does plant the seeds of doubt in the search for motive and circumstance. As events unfold and clues are dropped, moral ambiguity takes hold. Whoever the murderer is, it becomes ever clearer that there is more than just one villain in the story and that no one is truly innocent.

The characters are really the heart of what makes "Villain" a somewhat compelling film. In addition to the complicated and very puzzling relationship between Yuichi and Mitsuyo, it also focuses on the effects of the gruesome murder on Yuichi's grandmother and the father of Yoshino. Both 'nice' characters who willingly or unwillingly become silent victims that are thrust in very bad light. They find their normal lives turned upside down.

In justifying his actions, he (father of Yoshino) utters a poignant dialogue. He asks a colleague of Masuo, the guy falsely accused of his daughter's murder. An arrogant college student who isn't quite innocent, in fact he was such a jerk to Yoshino.

"You got anyone that you truly cherish, young man? I mean someone who fills you with joy with the mere thought of that person being happy.
In this day and age, too many folks have no one they care about. They figure they have nothing to lose, so they think they're strong.
And so they trick themselves into believing they're above it all. When they see people who have something to lose, they look down on them.
It's not right, people aren't supposed to be that way."

At 140 minutes "Villain"'s slow pace can be quite tedious. The scattered flashbacks chronicling the crime wasn't neatly integrated into the main story. But it does features decent camera work like zooming into the eye of a squid to weave in the flashback scene. The sweeping seascapes and the solid piano music add some edgy frills into the plot.

Set in winter, the real beauty unfolds in the isolated lighthouse, a significant venue is Yuichi's life. It is also where the final tragic scenes play out. The conclusion is particularly open to various interpretation with shades of ambiguity and morality rolling in.

"Villain" is a good case study about a murder, its lonesome perpetrator and the effects on its various victims, dead and otherwise. It is an sparse portrait of loneliness, grief and desperation, with some convincing performances from the cast.

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