Villain Review

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Blue-collar schleb Yuichi (Satoshi) tries to win the affections of his disinterested girlfriend Yoshino (Hikari), who in turn has her eyes on rich kid Masuo (Masaki). When Yoshino goes missing, the enquiry quickly leads the police to Yuichi's door...


Accused of the murder of a girl he met on a dating site, Yuichi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) goes on the run with his latest hook-up, Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu), while the family of the dead girl struggle to put their lives back together and make sense of the tragedy. (Twin Peaks was huge in Japan, remember.) The pervasive sense of social realism, so rare in Japanese cinema, may explain the lavish praise showered on Lee Sang-il’s film in its native Japan. We in the west, where such naturalism is commonplace, may be left scratching our heads at the film’s occasional lapses into melodrama and histrionic overacting, while to describe the pace as glacial would be to insult the dizzying speeds of which continent-sized ice shelves are comparatively capable.

While it's hard to see why Villain was so feted by the Japanese academy, the moody, social-realist vibe makes this worth a look.