Director Kore-eda Hirokazu / 2023 / Japan

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s tender answer to the question ‘Who’s the monster?’, awarded Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes, will melt your heart.

Rural tween Minato has been acting strangely since his dad’s death: drastically cutting his hair, leaping from a moving car, claiming his brain has been replaced with a pig’s. When he comes home from school injured, his mum Saori is convinced something more sinister is at play and sets out on a relentless campaign to expose Minato’s teacher, Hori, as the culprit victimising her son. In turn, Hori claims Minato is a bully. But Minato has his own perspective, focused on his new friend, with troubles of his own.

Hirokazu Kore-eda (Broker, MIFF 2022; Shoplifters, MIFF 2018) has maintained a fascinating, prolific career of exploring universal human impulses through the lens of fractured and makeshift families. His lauded latest film may recall both the interpretive re-visions of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and the touching central bond at the heart of Lukas Dhont’s Close (MIFF 2022), but setting it apart is its startlingly wondrous warmth. Adding to Monster’s atmosphere of well-meant misapprehension is a delicate piano score by Ryuichi Sakamoto – the subject of Stephen Nomura Schible’s eponymous MIFF 2018 documentary – in his final screen work before his death this March.

“Elegant and poetic … A sweet, unknowable and often purposely misleading red herring of a whodunit that morphs into an unexpected tale of friendship.” – The Wrap

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