Drawing instant intrigue for fans of director Hirokzau Kore-Eda, acclaimed director of numerous works showing understated and often obscure views of family dynamics; how would his mark be made on a genre-fied courtroom drama by way of a murder mystery? It may not seem like as drastic a mark as one might expect. But there is an understated feel to it, even as that crucial testimony is called for in a courtroom on the verge of a decision. There are also some deep moral and philosophical quandaries being dealt with, putting the film in good company with its festival peers (such as SCYTHIAN LAMB). The film is anchored by the very solid performances of Koji Yakusho, as an inscrutable suspect who hides myriad realities behind sad and searching eyes, and Masaharu Fukuyama as cocksure and morally flexible defense attorney, a character type of great familiarity. Fukuyama’s character stands to change the most, and does so engagingly as complications in his own family life bear impact on his dealing with the case. There is a very Kore-eda esque feel to gently chiding interactions between him and his father, which are a bit meandering and very natural. A solid drama with a bit of arthouse subtlety, which leaves plenty of mental matter to consider afterwards.
THE THIRD MURDER is being screened at The 2018 New York Asian Film Festival on Saturday, June 30th, at 12:15 PM. Visit the NYAFF homepage for tickets and information.