Sunday, November 7, 2010

Black Kiss (2004)

At a glance:
This Japanese horror/drama has enough style and quirky acting to overcome its convoluted plot
Our review (with spoilers):
My favorable opinion of Black Kiss is far from subjective. It is skewed by my appreciation for unusual, thoughtful films. It is enhanced by my fond memories of my brief visit to Japan in 1999, and for my desire to see more of Tokyo and Shinjuku again. Blessed with strange, occasionally stylistically fast editing, and cursed with an almost fanatical tortoise-like speed in revealing its story, Black Kiss is a study in contrasts. Amid the photogenic doll-like beauty of young Japanese women/models, there is a sickening murder mystery and a series of gruesome murders. A man’s bloody body is shredded and spread like a paper flower. A woman’s still living torso is shipped in a box. A killer commits a murder, then performs a Houdini-esque escape from a locked room. A tormented former model takes a na├»ve young newcomer under her wing, and either curses her or blesses her. A strange paparazzi stalks the newcomer.
I particularly enjoyed the unusual, understated performance by Shunsuke Matsuoka as junior detective Yusuke Shiraki. He discovers information about the case that often disgusts or confuses him, causing him to shrink into himself, his head retreating into his neck much like the tortoise that prowls Kasumi’s apartment.
On the negative side, this is a long film that ultimately makes no sense. It’s a triumph of style – and good acting – over plot.
Rating: 3 of 4

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