Top critical review
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Reasonable people can disagree
on 20 August 2008
I know this film is raved about worldwide, but I don't see what's so great about it. What's taken as the director's objectivity seems to me to be because he doesn't know what to do with the material before him. The film has a few jumps in time that's unnecessary (mostly it follows the killer's life while on the run, but throughout there's scenes from after he's apprehended); its psychological explanations are few and far between; the occasional humour disrupts the uniform bleakness of the film; and the references to Japan's war-era militarism are heavyhanded.
The film does a good job of showing how actual violence is an unchoreographed mess, it ably shows the underside of the Japanese middle class dream, and it does a great job in revealing that family bonds can be as much about self-interest as love and affection. But all in all in my opinion this should have been a much better film.