怪物Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Ando Sakura, Kurosawa Koya, Nagayama Eita
Best Screenplay and Queer Palm, 2023 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2023 Busan International Film Festival
An apartment fire rages in the night. It won’t be the last time we see this fire, and each revisit will come with new questions. At the core is an elementary teacher Hori who may or may not have frequented the hostess bar in the burning building. Gossip soon spreads amongst the parents, including Saori, who alleges that Hori has verbally and physically abused her son Minato at school. The administration denies the allegations, making Saori ever more frustrated and helpless.
Then, Sakamoto Yuji’s screenplay rewinds. We see the events play out from Hori’s perspective, complicating Saori’s account and shining a different light on the classroom and its students. There is a third section too, opening yet another window, one that is simultaneously unexpected, liberating, and tender. That the third section is told from the perspective of the kids should come as no surprise to fans of director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, SDAFF ’18), cinema’s greatest director of children, who doesn’t infantilize or fetishize innocence, but takes seriously the curiosity and passions that animate it.
To the contemplative piano of the late Ryuichi Sakamoto in his final film score, MONSTER walks us through the fiery side-taking that’s sent rifts throughout society, and then offers a third way. In the footsteps of children, from their classrooms to their secret hideouts, Kore-eda escapes down a possibility as daring as hope.
– Brian Hu