Based on the Korean hit “Confessions of Murder”, Yu Irie’s edition of the film tries to place a great story in a Japanese setting, and manages to include even more twists than the original.
Yu Irie builds the intricate story quite elaborately, as his narrative includes news pieces, footage from the past, flashbacks, and many scenes taking place during a TV show, which give the first part of the film a sense that someone is watching an exclusive piece of news. The second part features more elements of an action thriller, as the film takes an obvious commercial turn, and the script becomes somewhat hyperbolic in the number and the nature of twists it includes.
In this setting, Yu Irie manages to include a number of social comments as the role of the press, justice, public opinion and the way it is shaped, the concept of idols in the broader sense, and the role of the police. Evidently though, after a fashion, all of the above are set aside in favor of the story.
The editing in the film is one of its better assets, with the editor (unfortunately I could not find his name) doing a great job in connecting the various visual aspects in a fashion that is everything but confusing. The last aspect though, also benefits by the changing of ratio and coloring in the scenes that take place in the past. Takahiro Imai’s cinematography follows the rules of the Japanese blockbuster, presenting a number of polished images that manage to set the mood of each scene quite nicely, although a bit detached. The realism of the scenes in the studio, both in front and behind the camera are among the highlights of his effort.
Tatsuya Fujiwara as the mystery man gives a quite good performance, which is stripped of his usual, misplaced exaltations, at last, as he presents a man who is evil and is not afraid to present his nature to the world. The scene with his editor is the highlight of his performance, as he manages to ooze evil and danger without doing much, just through his tone of voice and movements. I found Hideaki Ito’s performance unremarkable, as he presents a character that seems quite “dry,” despite the many occasions he had to shine. Toru Nakamura as Toshio Sendo is quite good, emitting the seriousness and professionalism his character demands.
Despite some faults, “Memoirs of a Murderer” is a very entertaining film, that will satisfy both fans of Korean crime thrillers and of Japanese blockbusters.