Monster

Japanese, English Subtitles

genres:

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A single mother begins to notice that her son is acting strange; he’s suddenly closed-off, erratic, and seems filled with sadness and anger. Upon digging deeper into the situation, the mother discovers that her child may be getting bullied by his teacher, and as any mother would, she storms into the school demanding answers. But the answers are a lot more complicated than anyone could imagine, as we see the same scenario play out through the eyes of the mother, then the teacher, and finally, the child.

Each character’s perspective is revealed as we explore their blind spots and hurdle towards the truth that lies at the center. Similarly to Rashomon, this film brilliantly uses unreliable narrators as part of its structure, delivering satisfying twists and turns.

This powerful new work from the Japanese master, Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, Nobody Knows, Broker) was the recipient of the Best Screenplay prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, as well as the Queer Palme (awarded to the best film with LGBT themes at Cannes). This film also boasts the final musical score by legendary Japanese composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto (Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor), who passed away earlier this year.

It is easy and convenient to label someone a monster. It dehumanizes them, invalidating their intentions and perspective as evil, and not even worth understanding. In Hirokazu Kore-era’s newest film, he interrogates this idea and questions why people are so eager to jump to the worst conclusions about others. Kore-eda is a filmmaker that always works from a place of incredible empathy and understanding. In his previous films, he has turned a family of thieves into a wholesome band of misfits, and a group of baby kidnappers into a loving collective. In all of his work, he seeks the best in the worst of situations, giving people a chance to prove what is truly in their hearts.

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