Friday, January 11, 2013


Another Kiyoshi Kurosawa picture, another devastating Koji Yakusho performance. Don't know what I'm talking about? That's OK, it really doesn't matter; such is the immediate, visceral nature of film, all you need do is lend 100 minutes to the screen and you'll get it. I'm forever throwing out names and dates and production trivia, but in the end, it's all about the images, the conjured floating world playing out in our eyes. Such is the paradox of film criticism: The better the film, the less you need say about it.

Hey, where are you going? I was only kidding! What you should know is this: Retribution (2006) is a moody, haunting supernatural thriller very much in the mode of Cure (1997) and Pulse (2001). I was a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa booster at one point, but stuff like Charisma (1999), Seance (2000), Bright Future and Doppelganger (both 2003) left me so cold and bored that I sorta drifted away. That said, I found Retribution to be a refreshing return to form.

What's it about? Oh drowning, mostly. There's a serial killer on the loose in Tokyo who likes to drown people in sea water (go figure). The detective on the case (Koji Yakusho) seems to have a personal connection to the case -- this backstory comes gradually, inexorably to the fore, along with a ghost. That's all I'm willing to say at this time …

Retribution is kind of an amalgam of Kurosawa's two finest films, Cure and Pulse. From Cure it takes the serial killer/police procedural thing; from Pulse, the sense of creeping, inevitable spiritual doom. It stands not quite so tall as its forebears, but is a worthy entry and worth a look.

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