Akunin (悪人, means devilish person) is a 2010 Japanese film directed by Lee Sang-il and based on Shuichi Yoshida’s crime noir novel of the same name. The movie bagged all four acting awards at the 34th Japan Academy Prize earlier this year. It missed out on the Best Picture though, which went to Confession instead.
The excellent cast include Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eri Fukatsu, Akira Emoto, Masaki Okada, Kirin Kiki and Hikari Mitsushima. Composer Joe Hisaishi also won an award for making the film score.
Akunin tells the story of a loner who kills his ex-girlfriend. The film dissects the crime and surrounding events from various angles; it makes the audience wondering who’s the real villain in the situation.
The ex-girlfriend is a gold-digger who treats the loner like thrash and dumps him for a rich kid, who in turn treats her badly. One night, after an argument, the rich kid throws her out of the car; and the loner who tails them confronts her and kills her at heat of the moment.
The rich boy becomes the initial suspect before evidence eventually points to the loner.
In a twist of event, the loner meets another lonely woman a day after the crime and love blossoms in between. When the loner confesses to his new lover about his crime and intention to surrender – his face is all over the news by that time – the woman persuades him not to and run into hiding together.
Beside the obvious part questioning who’s the real villain, the film also cleverly instilled modern social issues – e.g. loneliness, financial status, family disintegration etc. – in the plots, which makes people wonder why the villains become who they are, and if there are any villains among us in real life.
The film didn’t draw much conclusion on those issues. There are plenty of rooms for interpretations, which is probably another successful side of the movie.
Akunin will show in UK cinemas (titled as Villain in English) on August 19 by Third Window Films.