The Third Murder


Drama / Mystery

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 75%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 1533


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March 27, 2018 at 11:30 PM


Kôji Yakusho as Misumi
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1.03 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 4 min
P/S 9 / 103
1.98 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 4 min
P/S 8 / 69

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Claudio Carvalho 7 / 10

The True Motive

The defense attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) is summoned to help his coworkers in a murder case. The prisoner Misumi (Kôji Yakusho) has confessed the murder of his former boss and factory owner that was burnt to ashes nearby a river to rob his wallet to pay debts in gambling. Misumi will face death penalty since thirty years ago he killed another man and was defended by Shigemori´s father. Shigemori´s purpose is to change the sentence from death penalty to life. Shigemori is not satisfied with the lack of evidences of the case and notes that Misumi changes his testimony in each interview. He decides to investigate deeper the case and questions the true motive for the murder.

"Sandome no satsujin", a.k.a. "The Third Murder", is a tribunal and fatherhood drama with a screenplay with many twists. The storyline is based on a murder case with a confessing defendant and his new attorney seeking evidences to learn the truth. In common, there is the fatherhood: Shigemori is an absent father due to his dedication to his profession. Misumi is also an absent father since he has spent his last thirty years imprisoned. The victim was an abusive father and Misumi connects to his daughter as a second chance in life. In the end, was the murder to pay a debt with the Yakuza or a righteous justice act? My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Terceiro Assassinato" ("The Third Murder")

Reviewed by GyatsoLa 7 / 10

Not so much whodunnit as... does it matter?

I've just managed to catch up with this quite elusive film as I'm a big Akira Kurosawa film and from what I saw from the description and trailer, this would seem to be Koreeda's 'Kurosawa' film - there are obvious references to both Rashomon and High and Low.

The film indeed is clearly influenced by both those films, with a bit of Kurosawa's lesser known court drama Scandal thrown in. The plot follows a lawyer, asked by a colleague to assist with a seemingly straightforward capital punishment case. A middle aged man called Mizume is accused of, and has confessed to, the murder of a factory owner, and the theft of money. Mizume had only just been released after a long prison sentence for a previous murder. The lawyers job is to avoid the death penalty by trying to muddy the waters around the murder, and perhaps suggest it was an impulsive act and not planned (from what I can understand, Japanese law tends to have a range of gradations of homocide, with the judge ultimately deciding if it was serious enough for the death penalty).

The job of the lawyers is complicated by the apparent passivity of Mizume, and his constant changing of his story. At first, his explanations are just vague and contradictory, but he then states that he killed the man because he was paid by the mans wife to do so. As the main lawyer, Shigemora, digs deeper, he finds yet another possible motive.

I won't give away the ending, except to say that there is a 'probable' reason given in the end, but so many versions are given its not entirely clear what happened, or (seemingly the core question of the film) whether the truth is relevant at all to the operation of justice. Shigemora is caught in a Rashomon like situation of not knowing whether there is any one real truth, and whether knowing, or exposing, this truth is in any way relevant, morally, ethically or legally.

While the film sort of hedges the line between being a procedural and a more philosophical exploration of justice and truth (which reminded me a little of some recent Korean films such as Memories of Murder and Mother) the film also shows clear influence from High and Low as the main protagonist agonises over the guilty mans motivation, and starts to identify with him - shown rather allegorically in their prison conversations, with one face 'reflected' over another.

Rather like Kurosawa with Scandal and High and Low, the film seems to reflect the Directors concerns with the operation of justice in Japan, although those concerns seem pretty universal. In particular, the question of whether 'justice' and 'truth' are in any way compatible. Rather like Kurosawa's early films on the topic, the approach is perhaps a little too didactic for audiences not up to speed on the operation of the Japanese system.

As a film, I found it quite engrossing, while simultaneously a little frustrating. Koreeda is famous for a very deliberate, slow approach which in his best work absorbs the viewer into the life of his characters. Unfortunately, this type of film I think requires a more dynamic style, and the film is somewhat one-paced. Worse, it is hamstrung by some rather clunky didactic dialogue (the lawyer is followed everywhere by a young assistant, always asking stupid and naive questions which seem to have no other purpose than to explain to the audience what we are seeing), and some heavy handed metaphors. The two leads are good in the roles, but there is quite poor acting in some of the lesser roles - I think mostly due to the undercooked script and somewhat contrived plotting. I can't help feeling that Koreeda was trying to get something off his chest with this film, and found himself with a type of film making he's not really comfortable with.

So while the film is certainly quite gripping, and I found the insights into the Japanese court system very interesting, this is nowhere near the Directors best film. Its certainly worth anyones time with an interest in Japanese cinema to watch it, but be prepared I think to be a little disappointed if you are either a Koreeda fan (I certainly am), or for that matter, a Kurosawa fan.

Reviewed by politic1983 7 / 10

Murder was the case...

"I've only made two so far and I want to try making a wide variety of films. I want to make action films, period films." (Kore-eda Hirokazu, 1999)

Speaking with Mark Schilling for Premier back in 1999 with only "Maboroshi no Hikari", "After Life" and his documentaries under his belt, it was clear Kore-eda was going down the route of the auteur, though his penchant for the unconventional family drama was still some years to come. Since 2008's seminal "Still Walking", "Air Doll" aside (which is probably where it can stay), his work has seen weak father figures, bickering couples, children fending for themselves and grandparents that know best.

But with 2006's "Hana" Kore-eda's biggest step into new territory so far with a period piece, his latest film "The Third Murder" sees him take on the courtroom drama: a genre typically building suspense to the inevitable plot twist reveal.

Misumi (played by hair connoisseur Koji Yakusho) confesses to the murder of a local factory owner: his former boss. A convicted murderer on two counts in his native Hokkaido, it comes soon after his release form his thirty year sentence, and as such, he is likely to face the death penalty. Up steps Shigemori (taller-than-average Masaharu Fukuyama) and his legal firm to defend Misumi: their sole purpose to reduce his charge from murder and burglary to murder and theft, thus potentially seeing Misumi cheat death.

Misumi, playing the sap, goes along with Shigemori's idea, but the more Shigemori delves, the less it seems a clear, open-and-shut case. "Links" are uncovered between Misumi and his former boss' widow and their daughter, Sakie (our little sister Suzu Hirose) - seemingly the victim of her father's abuse. As such, Shigemori starts to question the true motives of Misumi, not just as a legal case, but as to the true nature of justice.

With so many lives affected, a selection of narrative options are offered, without giving a firm conclusion as to which was the true course of events, leaving Shigemori questioning his role, as Misumi realises his end goal.

Plot twists in suspense dramas compare to trying to make people jump in horror films: they're a cover for lacking anything truly captivating to say or show. As such, the nature of offering many potential stories could lead to a confused mess of a film, but Kore-eda, while working in a different area, is becoming something of a master at evaluating the human condition, using the contradictory narratives to leave you questioning truth and motive, rather than a simple twist at the end to try and keep you interested.

Social comment as to the justice system is offered throughout, perhaps sometimes a little too plainly, though always aimed at the morality and ethics of an organised justice system. Misumi may have admitted to the murder, but the more he reveals, the less straightforward his guilt becomes. Shigemori - oft referred to as a lawyer who keeps criminals from facing their guilt by family and foe alike - simply deconstructs narrative to fit his case for the defence.

As with "Like Father, Like Son", the lead characters' differences create archetypes to help Kore-eda in making his point. Shigemori, as with Nonomiya, starts from the moral high ground, but soon realises he is the one who needs to ask himself some searching questions. Shigemori and Misumi hold an obvious - and sometimes literal - mirror to each other, with Fukuyama's character again having to be the one to concede, much as Hiroshi Abe finds himself in "Still Walking" and "After the Storm".

Stylistically, there are perhaps some more mainstream cinema staples put to use, Kore-eda perhaps trying to take himself out of the comfort zone he may have slipped into. Shigemori's dream sequence is somewhat out-of-the-norm, as well as attempts at more poignant visuals to music, in an attempt to create iconic shots. For some this may be seen as a further decline into mainstream cinema, away from the more masterfully understated work of his first two films. However, it could also be perceived as a bridging of a gap, with the film taking the top awards at the Japan Academy Prizes a step in the right direction for Japanese cinema: one of the nation's best working directors getting his just rewards.

A legal drama, "The Third Murder" doesn't necessarily rely on the suspense of a thriller, but still keeps you watching as to what transpires before you. Despite some differences, this is very much a Kore-eda film: Shigemori, Misumi and Misumi's victim all play the role of weak father figures, with Shigemori's father the grandfather with greater knowledge. No easy solutions are offered, with greater happiness found away from one's initial objectives.

The "face-to-face" scene between Shigemori and Misumi towards the film's end offers some of the iconic shots perhaps aimed for, with Yakusho cementing himself as one of Japan's all-time great actors, deserving of his Best Supporting Actor gong at the Japan Academy Prizes. What starts off as a seemingly bumbling, forgetful and absent-minded fool, develops into a character of many layers. The truth is that Misumi wants to control people. By changing his story, resulting in the outcome Shigemori fought against, Misumi, the murderer, certainly held power over the lives of others

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