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Film Review: “The Third Murder” (2017) ★★★★★


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Bad people kill because they think they can get away with anything. Good people might do the same but in self-defence. Murder can occur both in a corrupted or in a super democratic society. Government administers murder as well, but through Capital Punishment. So the question is, wherein lies the right balance? Do we ask why this and that happens? And is there anyone who cares about the honest answer? The sad truth is, the same honesty never matters if the case reaches the court, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to the game between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer and their ability to turn facts upside down in order to win the case that might cause the one sitting on the bench his life itself.

“The Third Murder”, written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, lead by Masaharu Fukuyama as Shigemori, Koji Yakusho as Misumi and Suzu Hirose as Sakie, is a film which follows a high-profile murder of a factory president, presumably committed by Misumi. This man had already taken a life before, and this one adds the second one. However, his yet most mind-blowing, well-orchestrated murder waits for its time to take the stage, and when it does, the game of cat-and-mouse between the truth and lie will escalate to the level where only human dignity and self-sacrifice can really stop it. But will it, and if yes, then how?

Shigemori is assigned to take Misumi’s case. He wants his client to escape prison, or at least prevent getting executed. But his task as a self-defence lawyer turns into a big challenge when Misumi begins changing his story all the time. As he begins his cross-questioning, Shigemori learns about the victim and his relationship with Sakie, his teenage daughter. Through that, he realizes that Sakie has never been raised in a happy family and that all the unthinkable things occurred in the house, her mother, as a matter of fact, kept her eyes shut, pretending as if she sees nothing at all.

Shigemori is a very honest and intelligent lawyer. But even his wicked mind fails him at figuring out who Misumi is and why he decided to kills his own boss in such a cruel way. As the search of a motive continues, Shigemori will have plenty of information in his hand to play with, but he knows no matter how hard he tries, it’s not him who owns the end result, but his client Misumi who continues misleading him and the investigation team leaving them with empty hands.

In conclusion, “The Third Murder” is another brilliant court drama that comes from Japan. This is a nail-biting crime thriller which heavily explores the idea of justice, the importance of capital punishment, a murder case, the motive for it, and why sometimes the most daring and painful truth is best kept a secret. It touches upon why we say certain things, why we demand justice when we mainly act like a bystander. It’s about how one character can change throughout the film and you will never know which one to trust most. And all these occur through absolutely astonishing performances delivered by  Masaharu Fukuyama and Koji Yakusho. Both actors have entered into the specific space of the characters they portrayed and allowed them to live through like they were real life people.

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