The Third Murder

The first time I watched this Japanese legal drama (2017) by Hirokazu Kore-eda, I considered it a failure, a routine genre exercise by a filmmaker capable of much more. Kore-eda’s best films (Nobody Knows; Still Walking; Like Father, Like Son) unfold like great novels, patiently spending time with the characters until the accumulation of detail becomes profound. By contrast, The Third Murder felt like high-toned paperback fiction; the film hinges on a few big plot twists that drastically alter one’s perception of certain characters all at once. But when I watched it again, Kore-eda’s surprises seemed less like a screenwriter’s tricks than Dostoevskian revelations deepening everything that came before. Scenes that are tedious or familiar on first viewing become absorbing on the second, when you focus on small details that point to the characters’ true selves. In fact I can’t write about The Third Murder without getting into the plot twists, so if you want to see it, read this piece later. Continue reading>>