Villain

"Excellent"

Villain Review


A difficult, realistic look at a complex situation, this film explores good and evil in a way that's far more thoughtful than we usually see in cinema. And its emotional crescendo is reminiscent of Anderson's Magnolia or Haggis' Crash.

The lonely Yuichi (Tsumabuki) is trying to find love in an online chatroom, but the chirpy Yoshino (Mitsushima) ditches him when she meets the much cooler Masuo (Okada). When Yoshino turns up dead, the police suspect Masuo of murder.

Meanwhile, Yuichi meets Mitsuyo (Fukatsu), a girl who's clearly more on his wavelength. But he soon becomes the lead murder suspect. At the same time, Yoshino's father (Emoto) and Yuichi's grandmother (Kiki), who raised him after his mother left town, are both struggling to find peace with the situation.

Filmmaker Lee tells this story with a disarming attention to detail, capturing realistic rhythms of modern life while refusing to give in to movie cliches.

There's no action, no melodrama and, most refreshingly, not a single moment in which we can moralise about the characters or events. Clearly, the title is an ironic reference to the way we search for a villain in every situation, even though there rarely is a clear-cut bad guy on whom we can pin our sorrow.

Indeed, the characters are textured and richly detailed, and each one surprises us along the way. Tsumabuki is terrific in a very difficult role as the ostensible desperado, but we see him through Mitsuyo's eyes as a troubled young man haunted by a past mistake. His chemistry with the layered Fukatsu is edgy and awkward; in other words, it's both authentic and evocative. And further emotional resonance comes from the tender, raw performances by Kiki and Emoto.

By contrast, Okada's heartless Masuo and Mitsushima's clingy-cruel Yoshino feel like the real scoundrels in the story, but even these characters are tempered by subtle acting and clever scripting. While the film lurches through an uneven structure, cast and crew continually undermine our desire to find a moral anchor. So film keeps challenging our simplistic views of the world around us, forcing us to find hope in more realistic, less comfortable places. And by the end, it's one of those very rare films that turns out to be both moving and provocative.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 139 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 11th September 2010

Production compaines: Kastner/Ladd/Kanter

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lee Sang-il

Producer: Genki Kawamura

Starring: as Vic Dakin, as Wolfe Lissner, Nigel Davenport as Bob Matthews, Donald Sinden as Gerald Draycott, as Venetia, T. P. McKenna as Frank Fletcher, as Edgar Lowis, as Mrs. Dakin, Elizabeth Knight as Patti, as Tom Binney, Tony Selby as Duncan, as Terry, as Webb, as Henry, James Cossins as Brown

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