Sakurada Gate Incident (2010)

 

sakuradamongainohen

19th  Century Japan. The European powers are carving up Asia, with their sights set next on Japan. Tetsunosuke and like-minded samurai opposed to the opening of Japan and union with America determine to assassinate the lord of their province who sides with the invaders. The film tells the true story of that fateful incident in 1860, the events leading up to it and its aftermath.

The film looks and feels like a historical dramatization with many dialogue heavy scenes. The incident of the title is shown early on and the film proceeds with flashbacks explaining the character’s motivations. The film does a good job of explaining the characters situation, but again lacks the impact of a more emotionally driven story. The samurai are portrayed favourably, with the main Tetsunosuke’s wife and son offering much of the heart of the film. However, the direction is competent and the acting strong, helping to carry the bare story, which is stretched at over two hours.

Patriotism and protecting traditional values are at the core of this story. As an engaging film it feels lacking. However, for those with an interest in this period, this is worth watching as it is perhaps one of the most famous incidents in Japanese history.

Based on the novel “Sakuradamongai no Hen” by Akira Yoshimura.

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Villain (2010)

 

villain

The film begins with a bright young university student, who is unexpectedly killed early on. From there we follow the aftermath of this tragedy and the consequences it has on her family and her killer. The man responsible for her death, Yuichi, begins a relationship with another girl, and decides to flee to attempt some semblance of a normal life, knowing that he is entirely culpable for the murder.

The film is beautifully shot and, excepting a few over-the-top scenes, the acting is also good. The film is very much a character piece, with the focus being on the impact of the young girls death on those around her, and is generally well-done. Occasionally, scenes seem to have no bearing on the main thrust of the plot and sometimes it seems overlong, but when it focuses on the leads it is quite powerful, particularly towards the end.

The film rests on a central premise: can a killer ever be forgiven or find redemption for an inexcusable act, although the ending is as shocking as the opening death with an entirely unexpected denouement. It also looks at themes of culpability and revenge, with another character indirectly responsible for the girls death, and the boys grandmother receiving similar vitriol to the killer.