Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 19th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Japan 2010
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima
Cast: Takako Matsu, Masaki Okada, Yoshino Kimura, Mana Ashida, Kaoru Fujiwara, Kai Inowaki, Sora Iwata, Daichi Izumi, Karin Katô, Takuya Kusakawa, Ayaka Miyoshi, Hiroki Nakajima, Yukito Nishii, Hotaru Nomoto, Rena Nônen, Naoya Shimizu, Tsutomu Takahashi, Makiya Yamaguchi, Kasumi Yamaya, Ayuri Yoshinaga
BluRay released: April 25th, 2011
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £19.99
Revenge films have long been a staple in Japanese cinema, with kinetic scenes of blood soaked carnage and acts of violence eclipsing the effects of the journey on the protagonist’s psyche. While revenge themed films are often predictable, when done right they can be an exhilarating experience that is both thought provoking and entertaining. The key to finding this balance relies heavily on the shoulders of the central characters; if the viewer is unable to relate to them, it is impossible to feel their pain and connect on an emotional level.
My first introduction to Tetsuya Nakashima was Kamikaze Girls, a exuberant film with rapid fire pacing and a robust color palette. I was immediately drawn into his unique cinematic universe and was eager to explore more of his films. That occurred with Memories of Matsuko, but while the ‘Technicolor’ hues were still there, the story was not as upbeat. Certainly there were still moments of exuberance, mostly during the film’s stylized musical numbers, but overall the tone of the film was bleak, the experience grueling yet rewarding. Needless to say, I was more impressed then ever and itching to check out his latest film Confessions.
This time around he creates a poignant tale about revenge rooted in consequences. The film primarily centers around three characters, a middle school teacher named Yuko Moriguchi and two students who are responsible for killing her daughter. Structure wise the plot is broken down into three sections, one for the teacher and one for each of the killers, with the lengthiest section belonging to the teacher. Her ‘confession’ opens the film and does a superb job setting up who everyone is and what their motivations are. This section sets firmly in place the tone of the film and the deliberate pacing.
Confessions is easily Tetsuya Nakashima’s most gut wrenching film to date. Whether it be the film’s subdued colors or melancholy score / soundtrack (which includes the Radiohead song ‘Last Flowers’), this film excels. Not to be overlooked is the film’s exceptional cast which is anchored by Takako Matsu (9 Souls) in the role of Yuko Moriguchi. Another performance of note is Masaki Okada in the role of one of the killers, and the most memorable moments in the film are scenes in which his character interacts with Yuko Moriguchi; especially their climatic showdown for the film’s finale.
Without a doubt the most compelling aspect of this film is the journey upon which these three characters embark. The teacher determines that since society will not hold them accountable for their crimes due to their tender age, the best way to revenge is though milk injected with HIV infected blood. Now fearing that their lives are all but over, the two respond to their new situation in completely different ways. One withdraws from the world and slowly unravels, while the other remains stubborn and defiant. His lack of remorse eventually leads to his downfall, as that which he holds most precious is lost forever.
Confessions comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Flesh tones look accurate, contrast and black levels look consistently good throughout. Details look crisp, there are no problems with compression and DNR is kept to a minimum.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds crystal clear, balanced and robust when it needs too. Also the films score and the sound effects are well represented throughout the mix. Range wise everything sounds consistently impressive.
All the extra content included with this release comes on a second disc (a single layer DVD). Extras for this release include T.V. spots (1 minute 50 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English), a trailer for the film (1 minute 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), a segment tilted ‘Real Confession’ (17 minutes 21 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) that included comments from the cast and a featurette titled ‘Final Confessions’ (69 minutes 51 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English) that includes comments from the cast, the crew and director Tetsuya Nakashima. The interview segments do a superb job putting the various aspects of this production into perspective. Topics discussed include the origins of the film, the cast, the visual style of the film, the soundtrack / score / sound, the special effects and some of differences between the novel and the film. Also the featurette titled ‘Final Confessions’ has a lot of behind the scenes footage. The remaining extras included with this release are trailers for titles currently or soon to be released on DVD from Third Window Films. All of the content on the second disc is region 2 and PAL. Overall Confessions gets a first rate release from Third Window Films.
Note: Third Window Films are also releasing Confessions on DVD.