Festival favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows) takes a fascinating left turn with this intricate murder mystery, about a defense attorney who believes that his client — the self-confessed killer of a wealthy industrialist — is the fall guy for a sinister conspiracy.
This latest from Festival favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows) marks an alluring departure from the sage meditations on family life for which the Japanese maestro is known. This arresting new film belongs, rather, to that most irresistible of categories: the murder mystery. Yet, this being Kore-eda, it comes as no surprise that The Third Murder proves to be much more than a genre exercise.
It seems clear from the first scene that Misumi (international superstar Kôji Yakusho) robbed and killed an industrialist — Misumi freely admits as much, claiming he was desperate to settle a gambling debt. But defence attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama, star of Kore-eda's Like Father, Like Son and also appearing at this year's Festival in director John Woo's Manhunt) isn't entirely satisfied with his mild-mannered client's testimony. As Shigemori and his team go about their research, secret histories are brought to light, inconsistencies surface and unlikely alliances point to a more complicated set of circumstances.
The Third Murder takes us to numerous locales, but its most riveting scenes unfold within a tiny room where Misumi and Shigemori speak from either side of the glass. At times these scenes are framed so that we see what lies on both sides of the glass at once. Like most of Kore-eda's films, The Third Murder is a profoundly complex moral tale, so it is only appropriate that the director places his camera right in the centre of things. That's where the heart is.