DVD Review:CONFESSIONS (Kokuhaku)

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When It comes the Oscars it’s anything but a cliché when it comes to who’ll win the main awards. It’s also the same when it comes to the best foreign feature and sadly Japan’s official entry didn’t even make the final five, but it’s down to narrow mindedness of the judges, its there loss but our gain as movie fans. Confessions comes from the Brilliant mind of Tetsuya Nakashima the filmmaker renowned for surreal comedy fantasies such as Kamikaze Girls, Memories of Matsuko movies flowing with colour layered with dark humour , but like all great directors its just the matter of time before they venture out and try pastures new.

Based on the award winning novel by Kanae Minato, a dark compelling tale of a high school teacher Yuko (Takako Matsu) who announces to her class she is leaving  due to the death of her 4 year old daughter and as a ‘gesture’ of thanks to her unruly students she tells them 2 of them are responsible for her girls death whilst revealing her vengeance has started.

Before a word has been spoken the tone of the film starts to take shape, a typical school classroom, full of 13 year olds, jumping, dancing, texting, drinking milk, some are bored even rowdy but as the cheery music starts to fade out a chilling sense deep down is sparked as you know something dark, sinister has has happened. This musical opening is very reminiscent to the opening musical scene of David Lynch’s Blue Velet which shows a typical American suburb, hot summers day, smiley faces in gardens, homes a portrait of perfect America but as the camera slowly pans into the grass then the soil you know that true face of American suburbia doesn’t lie on the surface, nothing these days is face value.

After the opening music, the actual opening act is a stunning intense moving 30 minute scene revealing Yoko’s own confessions as she talks to her students  with a calm & collective frame of mindset, no emotion or even a sense of remorse on what’s she’s started and about to do.do. Confessions is a revenge movie in the way think revenge movies play out, its also a powerful message of social commentary of disaffected youth, self-centred young people who nowadays have more of a relationship with there gadgets than with there family. You could say its a cry out at the over commercialisation of young people (or people in general) who bombarded with advertised to buy this, that, wear this, listen to them rather than giving them a choice to choose, brainwashing. What really hits you is that fact anyone under 14 can actually commit a cold blooded crime you won’t be punished by law, that brought a cold shiver down my spine. It’s not just the youngsters who are questioned by even Yoko is questioned we only seem to feel empathy for her nor we judge her too, her pessimism for the teens is callous as she assumes they will see to her revenge on the culprits in their own mediated way.

The next two acts are the confessions of the accused, student A and Student B as the teacher calls them. We delve deeper into the psyche of A&B revealing more shocking subplots as well as there motivations which is telling us we live in a sadistic world of obsession, retribution and of course revenge. The callous acts & information A& B is very unsettling fed to us like a video will testament.

Nakashima is a visual master who technical skills are up there with other visual masters like Lars Von Trier and watching every scene was like watching Michelangelo paint every tile on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, totally sublime. Confessions is  stylised in a perfect blue tone palette presented with slow motion scenes, high/low angles backed perfectly with the powerful atmospheric soundtrack which complimented each scene perfectly a true example of the importance of music with a movie, the soundtrack included bands such as Radiohead, Japan’s Boris, Mercury Prize winners The XX perfectly reflecting the fractured lives of our movies characters.

Confessions proves the revenge movie doesn’t have to be a movie of physical pain to be a dark disturbing piece but if your to seek revenge a psychological route can just be as powerful by destroying your victim by stripping away there sense of reality  using mind games. Confessions is a rollercoaster of emotions which some viewers may find hard to take sparking some raw nerves, but what we get is compelling disturbing masterpiece that will attack your emotions from all angles, superb stuff.


Drama, World Cinema | Japan, 2010 | 15 | 25th April 2011 (UK)| Third Window Films |Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima |Takako Matsu, Yukito Nishii , Kaoru Fujiwara, Masaki Okada | Buy:Confessions [DVD] [2010]