Garlanded with awards at Japan’s Academy Awards, ‘Villain’ offers a bleak and rounded, if ultimately conservative, take on a criminal act and its impact on those involved. Following the death of a young woman, police pursue her links to both a humble construction worker (Satoshi Tsumabuki, pictured right) who lives with his grandmother (Kirin Kiki) and a gauche, wealthy dilettante (Masaki Okada); meanwhile, the victim’s father (Akira Emoto) struggles to keep his world from falling apart. Based on a popular novel by Shuichi Yoshida, Lee Sang-il’s picture depicts a generation characterised by loneliness and selfish urges amid a landscape of flash cars, online dating and love hotels, their better instincts only occasionally emerging through a pricked conscience or the example of elders. The performances and photography are robust and the film does a decent job of humanising those involved, up to a point. But the characterisation is two-dimensional, the storytelling is spotty – a major plot point requires preposterously lax policing – and the relentlessly glum tone proves draining over 140 minutes.
Cast and crew