A psychological thriller of a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter’s death.

‘Confessions’ is a Japanese film (2010) about a mother’s revenge after two of her students killed her daughter. The film begins with a misbehaved class of thirteen year olds drinking milk which is supposed to be for a test. As they drink it, the teacher Yuko Moriguchi (played by Takako Matsu) patiently unveils the story of how her four year old daughter was brought up by a single parent because her father has AIDS; then going on to how she died, murdered. This beginning tale is full of suspense as the children become more intrigued and wonder which students were the ones that killed her; the use of shots of mobile phones and texting adds to the ‘who was it’ factor at the beginning of the film. The classroom is a cold temperature, very blue and clinical; however, Yuko’s flash backs are welcomed with warm colours like her life in the present is very much drained of love. This is a great lighting technique that adds to the suspense. Once we find out who did it, she then tells the class that she has poisoned two of the children with AIDS-ridden milk. At this point the audience believed just as the children do that the boys have contracted AIDS. However, this is just the beginning of an unfolding story of why the boys did it and what the consequences of Yoku’s actions are.

The film is split into each characters’ confessions with a black screen with the subtitle of who’s confession it is. The viewer is then aware of who’s story and viewpoint he/she is following. The story unfolds over a gradual period to time to find out that Shuya, who created the device that stunned Yoku’s daughter, craved the attention of his mother who abandoned him: he thought that getting media coverage of his academic achievements would impress her: however, as the media overshadowed his work; he became more extreme: using his AIDS (although proven negative) to get attention and then creates a bomb for mass murder, to show his mother how he is intelligent. From other characters’ perspectives, it is not clear at the beginning that he so craves this attention and is just seen as a little dazed by his own intelligence. However, he uses other characters as a way to ‘buy time’ before this. Yet, at the end, when the finale of how he is to bomb his classmates, he presses the trigger yet nothing happens; receiving a phonecall from his teacher, Yoku, who then tells him what she has done; her revenge was not settled with scaring him into thinking he has AIDS, but she moved his bomb to his mother’s place of work, killing her. At the end of the film, the use of a ticking clock which goes backwards and forwards echoes the structure of the feature: going backwards and forwards with each character looking at the original murder to the murder of other characters. The other boy, Naoki was a disturbed boy, wanting to cover up what he thought Shaya had done, but actually drowned Yoku’s daughter himself: after realising he may have AIDS he becomes obsessive over cleaning everything around him to protect his mother, but has violent moodswings when he is met with associates to what happened to him. His mother is a victim to these violent attacks; and is killed when she tries to end his life to stop his psychological suffering.

This film,although not overly gory, is an excellent thriller of how two boys meddled with the wrong daughter. Excellent acting throughout all the characters; a very convincing role by Kaoru Fujiwara playing Naoki through his trauma. Overall, a film that keeps you on your toes; when you begin to believe one thing is happening, there is a deeper meaning allowing the audience to become more connected with the characters, and becoming more intwined with the story following each of their stories.

The only real negative I can actually stipulate is that of the special effects of the explosion of the end was not brilliantly done; I feel that the slow motion make it more obvious it was not real. This, and how the actors seemed to have ran oddly in slow motion. Slow motion is supposed to heighten what is going on; however, the running did make me chuckle almost as if they were told to run in slow motion.


4 stars


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