A beautiful honors student named Kanako suddenly goes missing. Her father, former detective Akihiro Fujishima, begins an obsessive search for her, tracking down her former middle school teacher, classmates, and her juvenile delinquent friend Endo for clues. Fujishima is a lonely man who's seemingly blind to the fact that his own actions caused the collapse of his family. He becomes convinced that his search for Kanako somehow holds the key to fixing all of that, but as he continues his investigation, he's faced with a series of shocking revelations along the way and discovers that Kanako lived an entirely different life from the pristine image she presented.
~~ Based on the novel "Hateshinaki Kawaki" by Akio Fukamachi.
Cast & Credits
Nakashima Tatsuya is a genius Japanese director. His “Confessions” and “Memories of Matsuko” are living evidences of his brilliance. The downside is that he doesn’t come out much but when he does, it will be through a thought-provoking wild picture like The World of Kanako.
Being a serious fan of Nakashima filmmaking, I was eagerly anticipating this. But I wasn’t ready for this darker tone and pitch black atmosphere. Needless to say, I was pleased in a very good way. The picture was a clear depiction of an ill society with lots of vacancy within.
The storyline was based on several flashbacks to draw Kanako’s life. The multitude of switching between the past and the present was an intelligent procedure to keep the suspense until the end. Of course, the overuse might turn out confusing especially by the end but it was a definite win for the film’s two hours’ longitude.
The plot’s successively coherent events helped expressing the characters’ nightmarish adventures. But it was the excessive violence that pinpointed the severity of what actually happened. Of course brutal beatings and cuttings can come out extremely discomforting but it’s their gruesome nature that grabs the memory and highlights the nasty reality Nakashima was trying to illustrate: Nothing is what it seems. There’s always a hidden reality underneath.
Beside Nakashima’s explosive style in picturing a chaos in stunning colours, there were his brilliant main leads. They’re what strengthened my wish to see this picture in the first place; the veteran Yakusho Koji (he was on a whole different level), the brilliant Tsumabuki Satoshi, the charismatic Odagiri Joe, the much imposing Nakatani and even the impressive younger talents Hashimoto, Komatsu and especially Shimizu. The film’s loaded cast helped bringing few of the craziest characters ever.
There’s zero hero in this film. All of its characters are some sort of anti-heroes, psychos, sadists, violent pricks and even demons. It was the intense characterisation that made me glued to the screen the whole time. They make one hell of an entertaining bunch. They were perfectly entwined in a messy havoc. They even get crazier as the film goes on and on unravelling their traits one by one. Some characters didn’t get proper explanations as they popped on the screen but it all went well for the final blow.
Maybe Nakashima went abroad with the repeated violence, brutality, rape, drug use and all the ugly side of REALITY but it was especially genius how he has wrapped his characters in a surrealist cover of apparent fantasy. It does take a big director to convince his audience about the line between reality and fiction without getting caught in his own scenario. Hats off to you oji-san!
The World of Kanako is a fascinating take about the ugliness in society (more particularly Japanese). It’s an intriguing view about people’s masks and their crazy reactions when someone pushes the wrong button. It’s basically a gripping watch centring on wild characters being pushed to the edge.
-Wildness beyond imaginations.... check!
-Spot on comedic scenes...check!
-Amazing performance from the whole cast...check!
-Magnificent use of flashbacks, colours, lighting and music... MAJOR Check!
-Memorable... We'll see about that ;)
-Story... I don't usually watch anything where there is no one to root for, much less enjoy it, but somehow this story was engaging so...check! But it was mostly because of it's characters rather than the story itself.
This is definitely a director piece. What I love about this movie is exactly what I loved about Confession. The not so linear timeline, the constant use of flashbacks, seeing only part of the picture piece by piece until it makes all sense, the effective use of music to indicate the absurdity of the situation, the colours used show the madness in the world. The movie doesn't shy away from anything, and the story is told by one hell of a messed up dirty old ojisan. Under a lesser director, this movie would've been like any other, average, forgettable. Nakashima has a way of mastering the image he's showing. A true artist who manages to connect with the audience through images.
Yakusho Koji's genius was beyond my imagination (currently checking out his movie list ;)) Tsumabuki was adorably delightful. I smile on every scene he's in. Sometimes I burst out laughing. Specially in his last scene in the movies. Hilarious! It just caught me by surprise. Odagiri, oh Odagiri, he may not appeared long in the movie, but it was long enough to captivate me. To the point that I didn't realize I was missing my chance to get some great screencaps of him XD. What a scene that way. Words cannot describe it. It was so effortless on his part. Playing crazy characters for him is like a kid getting his favourite toy on christmas!
That young cast! No fear for the future of the Japanese cinema as long as they're around. It's my first time seeing Komatsu Nana so can't judge much but she has the perfect demonic beauty that she uses effectively here. Hashimoto Ai always knows the best thing to say at the right moment. Hiroya Shimizu was also perfect his the use of his character is interesting.
It wasn't an easy watch but totally worth watching. If you're a fan of Nakashima movies, especially Confessions, you'll definitely like it. If you are a fan of any of the cast, they make such a spectacular job it's worth venturing into this movie!