Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Thanks to Film Movement for providing me with a screener of the film for the purposes of a review:
When it comes to modern crime drama noirs, they often come across as embarrassing and lazy attempts at recreating brilliant works of film from so long ago. They often never recapture the psychological or rather deceptive aspects of the film, attempting to lend itself more to a popcorn flick rather than a serious noir. This trend has existed for decades, all the way back to some of the first films in full color. However, thanks to Hirokazu Kore-eda, director of impressive works like Our Little Sister, After the Storm, or Like Father, Like Son, and his brilliant new foreign art house film The Third Murder, it seems that the greatness of noir crime dramas has returned. Embellished by a stunning, powerful cast and an impressively tense and thematic screenplay, The Third Murder rivets and compels with every scene, creating an artful masterpiece that is one of the best of the year.
Taking cues from revolutionary noir-like films like the original Blade Runner for instance, the screenplay of The Third Murder is riveting and compelling from the very start. The dialogue Kore-eda is able to display on the screen is nothing short of scarily tense, a feat made all the more impressive thanks to how complex and enigmatically different the screenplay is in relation to other recent foreign blockbuster fare. Instead of relying heavily on exciting sequences, Kore-eda sheds light on dialogue-heavy sequences and weakens the pacing as a result. It is certainly a unique approach to storytelling, particularly for a crime drama, and it works most of the time. The lack of the blatant attempt to continuously excite the audience is both refreshing and effective. Gone are the needlessly complicated moments in recent crime films that both created plot holes and drastically changed the focus of the film. In addition, even with the heavy amount of dialogue, the film always sustains a quiet approach. It never is soft with its emotions or riveting themes, but it portrays all of its elements with a somber tone that is both delicate and intriguing. However, even with the advantages that this unique form of storytelling proposes, there are some noticeable issues. For instance, having such a drastic and bold focus on dialogue-heavy sequences led to a pacing that never felt quite ideal, particularly during the second act. I may have been intrigued the entire way through, but I wasn’t always on the edge of my seat during every scene. But as the film progresses, the issue never becomes too abundant or difficult to cope with, but instead is more of a slight blemish on the unique and masterful form of storytelling.
In addition to the storytelling, another boastful aspect of the film would be its thematic elements. There simply isn’t a film playing that has such a deep respect for both the audience and their intelligence. Most of the themes are hidden in plain sight, while others are more lenient for audiences to discover. It creates a fascinating puzzle that masterfully replicates the actual events of the film, making the experience much more interactive than before. The themes themselves are also satisfying to discover. They deal with complex messages such as family and how the consequences of death can shake the people around you. However, these messages aren’t as embellished as I would have hoped. It seems as if Kore-eda may have limited himself in this area in order to appear to a broader audience, but it’s still a disappointing feature of the film. Nonetheless, it is simply undeniable just how