If Kurosawa Bunzo had given his family the same level of care Karamazov no Kyodai was created with, we might have been talking about a heartwarming comedy here. This atmospheric, psychological ride is a Japanese gem for 2013 thanks to the meticulous way it was built. In particular, the cinematography is rock solid. The shots inside the Kurosawa house are some of the most gorgeous and use interesting angles to bring out the dark veil hanging over the place. Beyond those deliberately called attention to by the story, decorations and objects often appear in the same frame as characters--acting as mute symbolism for the person or their situation. This aspect is easy to miss the first time around and is a good reason for a re-watch. Some viewers might find them unsettling or even irritating, but occasionally disturbing clips and images appear between stops in the action. I find them instrumental to the feel of the story. Music is also masterfully utilized, with the orchestrations displaying delicious moodiness. Vocal tracks will be easily recognized by most everyone, as the bulk of them are classics. The lyrics of these songs (like Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones or Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit) could not have suited the situations they were used in better. Honestly, the first time Paint It Black played over a scene, goosebumps came. I also need to give a special mention to the sound effects team, because sometimes a noise would halt the music. For instance, when Isao is talking to Mitsuru at the bar, the sound of his glass settling on the table signals an eerie silence. All of the brothers were played well, each actor filling their role believably. If I had to pick a favorite though, Ichihara Hayato would win the contest by miles. His portrayal reminds me of a tragic hero from a Gothic romance, tortured and barely keeping it together; but on the outside he's everything you'd want your son to be, handsome, elegant, and successful in his career. Ichihara-san is especially good at acting with his eyes and often made incredible blocking choices in his scenes. It'll be a blessing if he can get more meaty roles like this; he's a magnetic presence on the screen. On the other side of the spectrum is the cartoon-ish detective, who unfortunately was present during all of the scenes inside the interrogation room. His voice drove me crazy, because he kept speaking in this strange purr that sounded more suitable for a villain in a child's anime. I'll end by saying that while this is a story of pain, abuse, and ultimately murder, it's an easy watch...if you can handle that. The episodes are short and hook you in, especially if this genre is your bag. If you're anything like me, you'll end up eager to get to the end and watch most of it in one go; once you're there, you might just not see the end coming.
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