Asian cinema: Japanese films
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Tatsuya Fujiwara in a still from Memoirs of a Murderer (category IIB, Japanese), directed by Yu Irie. The film also stars Hideaki Ito.

ReviewFilm review: Memoirs of a Murderer – Tetsuya Fujiwara stars in preposterous Japanese remake of Confession of Murder

This story of a serial killer who writes a bestselling book about his crimes and the policeman who tries to bring him to justice, suffers from a ridiculous plot, and dull acting

1/5 stars

A killer becomes a media sensation after publishing a book about his heinous crimes in this preposterous film by Yu Irie. Not to be confused with Won Shin-yeon’s recent Memoir of a Murderer or Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 classic Memories of Murder, Memoirs of a Murderer is indeed a Japanese reworking of the 2012 South Korean thriller Confession of Murder, directed by The Villainess’ Jung Byung-gil.

After the statute of limitations expires on a string of grisly stranglings dating back to the 1990s, the charismatic Sonezaki (Tetsuya Fujiwara) steps forward and announces himself as the serial killer, unveiling a tell-all autobiography, which becomes an instant bestseller.

Hideaki Ito in a still from Memoirs of a Murderer.

While the police are powerless to stop him due to a legal loophole, detective Makimura (Hideaki Ito) remains determined that he can bring Sonezaki to justice. But he soon finds himself protecting the killer from a number of revenge attacks from his victims’ relatives.

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In the past, the versatile Ito has played everything from sympathetic to sinister, but as the obsessive, grief-stricken Makimura, he is dull as dishwater. Fujiwara, conversely, channels his effete histrionic style perfectly, ensuring Sonezaki is infuriatingly loathsome throughout.

Fujiwara (left) in a still from Memoirs of a Murderer.

But while the original film was scrappy yet enjoyable, Irie attempts to spin a complex psychological thriller out of this remake, seemingly unaware that his material is inherently ridiculous. With no characters to root for, and a plot insistent on wrong-footing its audience at the expense of anything approaching plausibility, Memoirs of a Murderer proves eminently forgettable and a colossal waste of talent.

Memoirs of a Murderer opens on November 30

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