Directed by Testsuya Nakashima
Written by Testsuya Nakashima
Based on the novel by Kanae Minato
Marketers have been quick to compare Confessions with Battle Royale, Love Exposure and other similarly popular genre films to be released from Japan in recent years. What it has in common is a strong passion for pop culture and violence, as well as painting relatively grim portraits of its country’s youth. Confessions does fit this broad characterization, but it is not as coherent as the others, nor is it as impactful. It is nevertheless a fun experience, with some powerful sequences.
At its worst, Confessions is pulled a little too thin. There are at times too many clamoring voices and perspectives, and the more interesting ones get drowned out for less impactful adolescent noise. The film is also drawn out too long due to far too many music video-esque interludes, which occasionally have some interesting images, but rarely serve the story or thematic sphere. This all works against the film, watering down any potential impact.
The most interesting segments of the film come from its female characters. They seem to be more quietly frustrated by their lives, and their conflicts are less obvious. The teacher’s especially is fascinating, and though by the film’s third act she is less human than she is just a vessel for revenge, for most of the film she is complex and her needs, wants and feelings are ambiguous and disturbing. Similarly, the one student who seemed aligned to her and eventual starts a relationship with the most psychopathic student, seems the most lost, seeking cathartic release through violence that she herself can’t commit.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really delve very deeply into the psychology of any of its characters. It rarely departs from Psychoanalysis 101 and is patently juvenile. The film is still worth recommending for its twists and turns, as well as having more than its fair share of compelling sequences. It is also quite entertaining, just unfortunately shallow given the potential of the script and the strength of some of the performances.
– Justine Smith