Starring: Takako Matsu, Kaoru Fujiwara, Yukito Nishii, Ai Hashimoto
“Ms. Moriguchi… there is something wrong with this class.” (Mizuki, Confessions)
My good chum and work colleague Tamoor gave me a Blu-ray yesterday and told me: “Watch this, it’ll be perfect for your site.” I got home and gave it a watch. 100 minutes later I was on Amazon ordering a copy for myself, because Confessions is one of the best films I’ve seen in years.
Yuko Moriguchi is a teacher in charge of a class of 13-year-olds, but she’s decided to pack it in. She’s got good reason to, mind you – her young daughter has died and she knows that the two people responsible for it are two of her pupils.
Rather than tell the police and send the two young killers through what she believes is a far too lenient youth justice system, she decides to plot her own revenge, a revenge that – once you learn the true story of what happened to her daughter – will have you questioning whether she’s gone too far.
The first half-hour of Confessions is perhaps the most engrossing that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s essentially one long monologue delivered by Yuko to her students, explaining to them what happened, how she discovered the identities of the killers, and her method of punishment. To say too much would be to spoil a film that really has to be seen with very little knowledge about the plot.
This first half-hour is the first of three different “confessions”, essentially splitting the film’s acts into separate revelations. Throughout the second act you start to question whether the two “killers” really deserve the punishment Yuko has bestowed upon them, but by the time you reach the third act you’ll have seen more twists and turns than a gymnast eating a Curly Wurly while dancing to ’60s rock n roll music.
The plot isn’t the only masterful thing about Confessions, though. The soundtrack is an incredible combination of beautiful score and achingly hip music – one minute you’re watching slow-motion shots over piano music and the next you’re getting Radiohead’s “Last Flowers”.
Speaking of the slow-motion, it’s used often throughout the entire film and yet it never feels excessive or laboured. It’s handled so magnificently and in such a wide variety of ways that almost every shot is a unique work of art.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much more about Confessions because I really don’t want to waste too much of the film, but I really want to say more because it’s superb. The performances all round are fantastic, the scenes of bloody violence are always handled in a way that seem almost poetic and never gratuitous, the ending is powerful and ingenious all at once, and I just want my copy to turn up soon so I can watch it again and again.
The pace may be a little slow for some people and those who turn their noses up at subtitles won’t like that there’s a lot to read, but if you pass those tests then I can’t recommend this highly enough. Get it get it get it.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
Sadly, Confessions isn’t available on Netflix or LoveFilm streaming (though you can add it to your LoveFilm rental list), but you can get it on Amazon. Here’s the DVD and here’s the Blu-ray.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more like it, here’s a complete list of reviews on That Was A Bit Mental complete with brief descriptions.