A grieving mother turns into a cold-blooded avenger to pay back the people responsible for her daughters death.
Confessions (, Kokuhaku) is a 2010 Japanese drama film directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, based on housewife-turned-author Kanae Minatos 2008 debut mystery novel that won the 2009 Honya Taisho award (Japan Booksellers Award).
A psychological thriller of a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter's death.
Junior high school teacher Yuko Moriguchi (Takako Matsu) announced to her class that she would resign before spring break. Moriguchi revealed that because the HIV-positive biological father of her daughter Manami was ill, she used to bring Manami (Mana Ashida) to school with her. One day, after school, she returned to the room where Manami was but found her gone. Her daughter was later found drowned in a school swimming pool. She then went on to explain that two pupils in her class, whom she dubbed "Student A" and "Student B", had murdered her four-year-old daughter.
She found a small bunny purse amongst Manamis belongings which should not have belonged there, which led her to question Shuya, one of her students, who immediately admitted killing Manami, and mocked her compassionate reaction to his feinted expression of remorse of "just kidding".
Having revealed their identities, she explained that, because they, as minors, are protected by the Juvenile Law of 1947, turning them in wouldnt make a difference. So to exact revenge on them, she admits injecting her late daughters biological fathers HIV-contaminated blood in the milk cartons of the two students who she claimed to have murdered her daughter. The rest of the film switches between the aftermath of Moriguchis confession and the events before the confession through a series of first-person narratives from Moriguchi and her three students. Naoki Shimomura (Kaoru Fujiwara), Student B, became a shut-in because he believes he had acquired AIDS from drinking HIV-contaminated milk. His mother (Yoshino Kimura), after spotting the hidden malicious messages in well-wishes cards from Naokis classmates, realized her son was somehow involved with an earlier incident. She decided to commit murder-suicide to free her son and herself from torment, but in the ensuing struggle, Naoki kills her. The police arrested him for the murder. Shuya Watanabe (Yukito Nishii), Student A, explained that his mother abused him before leaving to pursue her scientific ambitions. He confessed that her abandonment had driven him to thrive in Science, from making small inventions to recording his killing and dissecting animals. His first public invention, an electric anti-mugger wallet, earned him a science fair award, but it failed to make the headlines, as the media was busy covering "Lunacy Incident".
Shuya and Naokis recollections revealed that Shuya said he had upgraded the anti-mugger wallet, and decided to try it out on someone, and roped Naoki in to help with his plan. They decided on Moriguchis daughter Manami. However, when they tested it on Manami, Shuyas device only managed to render Manami unconscious, which Shuya mistook as an instant death, who then told Naoki to tell the world that Shuya did it. Enraged Naoki then threw the conscious Manami into the pool where she drowned, therefore proving he was the more effective killer.
The classmates forced classmate Mizuki Kitahara (Ai Hashimoto) to kiss Shuya as part of their bullying against Shuya. Mizuki later told Shuya she believed Moriguchi had lied about the blood-contaminated milk as it was an implausible method of transmission. After spending time together, Mizuki eventually confesses to Shuya that she identified the "Lunacy Murder" girl, who poisoned her parents, as her other self. They soon became romantically involved, but Shuya kills her after a confrontation over his Oedipus Complex, and claiming that she was nothing but "a means to relieve boredom".
After finally finding out messages left with his mothers name and work place, Shuya visited the university where his mother worked, expecting to reunite with her, but discovered she had remarried. Believing she had forgotten him, he planted a bomb in his schools sport hall where the graduation ceremony would be held and he was to give a speech. However, to his surprise, the bomb did not go off during the ceremony. As he tried to work out what had happened, he received a call from Moriguchi, who said that she had relocated the bomb to his mothers office she explained that it was her ultimate revenge, to let his mother die of his own hands, but his redemption would now begin. As the screen darkens, Moriguchi chuckles and says, "Just kidding."Takako Matsu as Yuko Moriguchi
Masaki Okada as Yoshiteru Terada
Yoshino Kimura as Yuko Shimomura
Yukito Nishii as Shuya Watanabe
Kaoru Fujiwara as Naoki Shimomura
Ai Hashimoto as Mizuki Kitahara
Mana Ashida as Manami Moriguchi
Soon after the film had started showing in 266 cinemas, it had already grossed ¥269,835,200 with 194,893 audiences, breaking the record previously held by I Give My First Love to You. It kept grossing and became the highest grossing film for 4 consecutive weeks in June. It grossed over ¥3,500,000,000 in the 8th screening week, and finally, the gross revenue reached the record of ¥3,850,000,000. It is ranked as the 7th highest grossing Japanese film in 2010.
The film received a widespread positive response globally, with critics praising a variety of factors including good adaptation from the book, the directors style, and the acting, particularly by the child actors. The film holds an 80% fresh average score at Rotten Tomatoes. One notable negative review came from Mark Kermode of the BBC, who said that its style made it virtually impenetrable on an emotional level.
Takako Matsu appears in Confessions and The Little House. Rebirth (2011). The Great Passage (2013). Takako Matsu appears in Confessions and Villons Wife. A Class to Remember (1993).
The film was selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. In January 2011, it made the January shortlist and advanced to the next round of voting. In Japan, it firstly won Best Film and Best Supporting Actress at the 53rd Blue Ribbon Awards, which is one of the most prestigious national cinema awards in Japan. Then, it won the awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editor at the 34th Japan Academy Prize. Also, it had 6 nominations in 5th Asian Film Awards, which is one of the films with most nominations (with Let the Bullets Fly).
In April, the film won Best Asian Film (similar to Best Foreign Language Film, though only Asian films which have been screened in Hong Kong are admitted to join) at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards. At the 31st Hong Kong Film Awards, the category of Best Asian Film was replaced by a new category called Best Film of Mainland and Taiwan which means that only Chinese and Taiwanese films can remain to compete for such an award. Therefore, Confessions has become the last winner of Best Asian Film.