The very best (and, oc­ca­sion­ally, worst) movies mak­ing their DTV de­but

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW -

Ex-cop Akikazu Fu­jishima (Kôji Yakusho), the kind of drunken ragea­holic who gets sus­pected of triple mur­ders, is con­tacted by his ex-wife and told their 17-year-old daugh­ter Kanako (Nana Ko­matsu) has gone miss­ing. Sud­denly ob­sessed with a girl he barely re­mem­bers, Fu­jishima sets off to find her, learn­ing hor­ri­fy­ing things about the play­ground ul­tra-vi­o­lence and af­ter-school sex-and-drugs binges the miss­ing girl was mixed up in.

Tet­suya Nakashima has di­rected a se­ries of films about the ex­hil­a­rat­ing, ter­ri­fy­ing side of be­ing a young woman in Ja­pan — Kamikaze Girls, Mem­o­ries Of Mat­suko and Con­fes­sions. The World Of Kanako is his most shock­ing work to date, packed with chal­leng­ing sub­ject mat­ter, ag­o­nised yet ap­palling char­ac­ters, bursts of painful gore and star­tling plot twists, all told with a vivid, cut-up style that fea­tures an­i­mated in­serts, flash­backs, mu­si­cal in­ter­ludes, homages to 1970s ex­ploita­tion films and patches of sin­is­ter calm. There’s a heavy over­lay of Tarantino — the sound­track se­lec­tions, the brutal pop-art main ti­tles, char­ac­ters who sur­vive in­jury thanks to sheer willpower — but Nakashima also draws on the David Lynch of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and ’70s Paul Schrader de­scent-into-hell sagas such as Taxi Driver and Hard­core.

Yakusho is a mem­o­rably sweaty, prim­i­tive pro­tag­o­nist, tack­ling the case in much the same way Godzilla tack­les a visit to Tokyo, from an­gry ques­tion­ing of Kayako’s friends, to tor­tur­ing folks left aban­doned in the girl’s wake.

Any hu­mour is pitch­black (with splat­ters of red) and it’s re­lent­lessly grim in its world­view, but pow­er­house per­for­mances and en­thralling, in­ven­tive style make this a grip­ping, gutsy film noir.

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