Villain (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/08/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 139 mins

Villain is well acted and plays some intriguing games with shifting character sympathies, but it's ultimately far too long and suffers from some serious pacing problems.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lee Sang-il, Villain is based on the novel by Shuichi Yoshida and stars Japanese pop star Satoshi Tsumabuki as Yuichi, a lonely Nagasaki misfit who's fallen for mean-spirited Yoshino (Hikari Mitsushima) after a few casual hook ups from an online dating site. When Yoshino dumps him for cocky, loaded Masuo (Masaki Okada), Yuichi is furious and so he happens to be following the pair when Masuo cruelly kicks Yoshino out of his car on a deserted highway.

Despite initially trying to help Yoshino, her furious reaction leads to a scuffle and Yuichi accidentally kills her, leading him to go on the run. Along the way, he picks up Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu) and the two begin a tentative relationship. Meanwhile, the police initially suspect Masuo of Yoshino's murder and both Yoshino's father (Akira Emoto) and Yuichi's grandmother (Kirin Kiki) struggle to deal with what's happened once the truth comes out.

The Good
The performances are mostly excellent, particularly Emoto and Kiki, whose emotional reactions are both powerful and complex (you really want Emoto to clock Okada's character with a spanner at one point). Similarly, Mitsushima is superb as the ultra-shallow, horrifically mean Yoshino and there's strong support from Fukatsu, though Shuichi isn't exactly brimming with charisma as Yuichi and you can't quite see why Mitsuyo would be attracted to him in the first place.

The multi-layered script is full of twists and turns and plays some interesting games with our sympathies for the various characters. Unfortunately, it's not always subtle about it, to the point where they might as well have put up a flashcard saying “Ah, but who is the REAL villain? Eh?”

The Bad
The film's main problem is that it's at least forty minutes too long, with a painfully dragged out middle section in which very little happens, though it does rally for a decent final act. It's also nicely shot by Kasamatsu Norimichi and has a decent score by Hisaishi Joe.

Worth seeing?
Villain is a watchable, well acted Japanese drama that pulls off some intriguing shifts in perspective, though it can't quite sustain its lengthy running time and is let down by some serious pacing issues in the middle section.

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Content updated: 12/12/2017 00:42

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