Acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda returns to his homeland with a powerful yet delicate story of love and humanity, a moral tale about school bullying, scored by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto.
After a detour in France (The Truth, TIFF ’19) and South Korea (Broker, TIFF ’22), Hirokazu Kore-eda returns to his homeland to reconnect with the roots that nourished the deepest spirit of his cinema. His art thrives on subtle, delicate emotions, disregards the obvious, and explores the ordinariness and variables of the human experience.
Quiet and reserved Minato (Sōya Kurokawa) — no longer a kid, but not yet an adolescent — lost his father when he was a young child and lives with his mother (Sakura Andō). When he starts behaving strangely, obsessed with the idea his brain has been switched with a pig’s, the mother suspects his teacher Hori (Eita Nagayama) and calls a meeting with the school principal (Tanaka Yūko) only to face a wall of silence and stiff apologies. Someone must have put that idea in Minato’s head, but something doesn’t add up. Is Minato telling the truth, or is his professor innocent? Looking at the story from various points of view, in a Rashomon-inspired structure, reality changes and the actual subject becomes the hidden friendship between Minato and one of his schoolmates, often bullied by other kids.
A great storyteller of family dynamics, Kore-eda shows once again his unique ability to depict the inner world of children, unveiling uncomfortable realities with a natural and necessary tenderness.
A milestone in his impressive body of work, Monster is marked by two major collaborations: one with co-screenwriter Sakamoto Yûji, and the other with the legendary musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died last March, Monster being his last soundtrack.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: bullying