TIFF16 DAY EIGHT & NINE: MURDER MYSTERIES, PATRIARCHY & AUTOPSIES

​RAGE (LEE SANG-IL)

After a brutal murder of a husband and wife occurs in a suburban neighbourhood in Japan we watch on as the police gather their evidence from the scene. Immediately we jump to three separate stories across Japan of strangers coming to towns and as the news comes out about the murder then the strangers in each of these stories  come under suspicion of being this murderer.

The film plays out as a slow discussion of identity and trust. Do we really know you? How do you trust someone and when is it that you actually stop trusting that person?

The murder plays a pivotal part in the film, even though it’s something that we barely think about for 2/3rd’s of the film. We spend that time learning about the people who come to trust and create relationships with these strangers.

There’s the story of Aiko and Tahashi; two people who’s had bad times in their lives and feel almost as if they don’t deserve love and therefore makes them feel more right being in love with each other rather than with others. There’s Izumi, the young girl, who meets a man on a remote island around Okinawa, Tanaka, and befriends him. There is also Yuma, a young successful businessman, who begins to date Naoto even though he’ll tell him nothing of his past. These three stories become our basis for forward motion as the film asks us to investigate as slowly but surely details are released by the police.

This murder mystery is a side thought to the stories of trust/betrayal. For the most part we’re just watching on as these strangers, whether actively or passively, find ways into these people’s lives. We, like the characters in the story, become attached to these people and are unwilling to believe it was Naoto because he’s that nice quiet guy who’s really good for Yuma. With all that said we can’t shake that it potentially could be any of them. So much so that when the film begins to place the doubt in the eyes of each of these stories we’re actually concerned for these people.

Lee Sang-il sends us on an emotional ride that is pretty great.

ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE (DEEPA MEHTA)

In 2012 a young woman in India was brutally gang-raped by six men. All of these men were caught and convicted. Two weeks after the incident the woman in question died.

The above is probably all anyone needs to truly know about the incident that occurs. It’s what you would’ve retained had you been tracking the BBC, and most other news, coverage of the event. While there are some other related, and outrageous, soundbites — which are mentioned in the film — I would be bold and state the above is the short version of the story.

Deepa Mehta however disagrees. She decides to take an experimental look at the men who committed this crime. She casts actors to take part in recreations of events from each of these criminals lives. They act out formative moments from the criminals’ childhood to eventually the day of the crime. We sit there and spend time with these men and begin to do something that not many news outlets want us to; that is understand them.

Before I go any further and furious rage comes from the internet; at no point do I — or Deepa — want to attempt to justify a crime of this nature. I, like Deepa, do however see the value in attempting to understand what brought these men all to the point where they thought this crime was in any way acceptable. Deepa attempts to portray that and it’s of high importance.

This film brings to the foreground systemic and cultural issues that allow for crimes like this to be at all conceivable. At the same time it’s hard for me to begin to recommend this movie as anything other than an educational/conversational starting point. This film begins with the knowledge of the crime and the punishment that occurs. If Mehta had spent more time looking at people other than just the criminals then possibly there would be more meat to the external factors as opposed to these six men’s abusive/impoverished/neglected/ childhood that brought them to eventually being who they really are. Who they were to bring them to feel it was within their right to do this act.

I feel that even if we talk about this movie as a battle cry for the world of victimized women in the world, and more importantly in India, and for men to become even more aware of how they treat women it still is just that. It’s a conversation starter that is important.  

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (ANDRE OVREDAL)

Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and Austen (Emile Hirsch) are father and son mortuaries who perform autopsies for the police to determine the cause of death (COD) in cases.On this dark and stormy night a Jane Doe appears in their morgue for an urgent case and they are made to stay in late to help get the COD for the next morning. As they peel back the layers the mystery gets thicker and thicker with the unbelievable things that was done to this body and how it just doesn’t match up.

There is a lot of fun in this movie. As we watch Tommy and Austen take the body apart the sequences are put together entertainingly and creates a rhythm that you can’t help but love. However, the film eventually takes a turn for the supernatural in a way that lands itself into the world of silly rather than interesting. The film devolves into jump scares and me enjoying hearing Brian Cox roll expletives off of his tongue — which I do enjoy — and it just doesn’t make it across that finish line. It makes this film feel as if it would’ve worked better as a short rather than a full feature length film.

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Author: Andrew Robinson

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