Leading attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) takes on the defence of murder-robbery suspect Misumi (Koji Yakusho) who served prison time for another murder 30 years ago. Shigemori's chances of winning the case seem low - his client freely admits his guilt, despite facing the death penalty if he is convicted. As he digs deeper into the case and hears the testimonies of the victim's family and Misumi himself, the once confident Shigemori begins to doubt whether his client is the murderer after all.
Totally mystified by this
- The Third Murder review by DB
I usually enjoy Japanese movies but I confess I was releaved when this movie finally finished , it was really hard work. The real problem with it I found was that it was very hard to understand what was going on , I don't usually mind that a filmmaker assumes that his audience is capable of following along but in order for that to happen you do need to have some clues to help in that process I get the feeling that the subtitles were only capturing about 5% of the plot and none of its subtlety . Some of the conversations between lawyer and client ( particularly towards the end were completely mystifying and appeared to be assembled at random ). Did he do it , or didn't he , if he did do it do we know why , was he a good man doing bad things - absolutely no clue. Everyone in this movie - lawyers, defendants and witnesses are lying or concealing their motives
It could be that this movie is a thickly veiled critique of the Japanese judicial system , or maybe just its defence lawyers. Certainly a Japanese courtroom does not come across as a forum for enquiring minds - most of the decisions seem to be agreed in advance in back room deals and defence lawyers seem to get the rough end of it. At the start of the movie the camera is positioned so it is on the same side of the partition as the defence lawyer making the prisoner appear to the one who is incarcerated , mid way through the movie and the camera has switched positions so it appears as if it is the lawyers who are boxed in and by the end the director uses reflections to overlap their faces to suggest that the two are indistinguishable - maybe that is the point ? Who knows ? If you are a native Japanese speaker perhaps you can let the rest of us know.