Synopsis: Confessions is an adaptation on Kanae Minato’s novel which focuses around a cold as ice teacher and her story of revenge after her four year old daughter is killed.
The film opens with a class full of loud and unruly school kids who seem uninterested in learning and focus more on tormenting other students and communicating through their mobile phones. The reason for this behaviour could be down to the fact that this is Yoko Moriguchi’s (Takako Matsu) last day teaching them. However she stays calm while pacing around the children, addressing them formally, as she slowly reveals her story. She discusses the way in which her four year old daughter is murdered and even then, the children only reply with brief comments and remain unfazed by her truthful story. She begins discussing the seriousness of life with a screech on the chalk board disrupting the subtle music and catching the attention of her self-obsessed students, a possible reflection of today’s society as a whole. As the story continues she hints that the two culprits are sitting in that very classroom referring to them as Student A and Student B, giving the classroom more incentive to listen in as we become engrossed by her story. She then delivers a sickening message that two of the milk cartons which the children have just been indulging in have been tainted by HIV contaminated blood as her revenge for her daughter’s death, breaking the equilibrium. Even though this may seem like a spoiler it happens fairly early in a film that is filled with twists, turns, love, death and insanity. Without wanting to reveal too much the films develops into five Confession stories, similar to the Ju-On series, which delves into the stories leading up, during and after the event of the death.
The super stylised slow motion, repeated sequences and fisheye mirrors which occur frequently throughout this film help reflect the madness that thrives. The unsettling tension build ups like in many of Kubrick’s films and is delivered in the same brilliance, captivating the audience slowly, revealing just enough to keep us hooked. This tension that builds is the best I’ve seen in years and would even go as far as saying that this is the best East Asian film I’ve seen (with Joon-Hwan Jang’s Save the Green Planet (2003) a close second) The visual elements are combined with the presence of Radiohead’s Last Flowers fitting like a jigsaw and like nothing else you will see in cinemas this year. There are no jump out of your skin scary moments, however you will still leave the theatre shaking in your boots as the whole feel of the film is just utterly disturbing.
The cast of school children are nothing but superb as their juxtaposing adult sadistic actions with their young looks are conveyed to perfection. However it is not only the school kids that stand out; every single character plays their role effortlessly. But if there is one character that stands above the rest, it is easily Student A: even though he is a young actor, he brings an honest yet terrifying portrayal of the difficulties of youth and has a scream which will haunt your nightmares.
I can appreciate that this film may not appeal to everyone but if you have a love of foreign cinema or a passion for thrillers then I really cannot stress enough how just how amazing/beautiful/incredible (or whatever positive adjective you can place here) this film is, so if you get the chance to see it, please do. It will challenge the way you have ever thought about the thriller genre. Where it is not a popular mainstream film it will be a bit difficult to find in mainstream theatres, but even if you have to travel 20 miles I would advise you to do so because you cannot beat that feeling of watching such a magnificent film on the big screen. However if this is not a possibility then it will be the best £15/$20/€15 you will spend on a DVD and I am sure that I will not see a better film all year.