Hirokazu Kore-eda, renowned Japanese director, is celebrated for his tender and illuminating portrayals of childhood, capturing the mundane yet profound aspects of human experience. His latest film, “Monster” (Kaibutsu), initially appears to follow this familiar path, but as the narrative unfolds, it becomes a poignant exploration of perspective, told through the lens of repeating events from three different angles.
The story begins with Minato Mugino (Soya Kurokawa), whose peculiar behavior arouses concern from his single mother, Saori (Sakura Ando). Saori’s observations lead her to an abandoned tunnel where she discovers Minato’s unsettling actions. Concerned for her son’s well-being, Saori suspects bullying at school and confronts the principal, Makiko Fushimi (portrayed memorably by Yūko Tanaka), about a teacher named Mr. Hori (Eita Nagayama).
The narrative then shifts to Mr. Hori’s perspective, revealing a thornier angle where he grapples with accusations and the complexities of an unjust system. As Mr. Hori’s story unfolds, the audience is compelled to question their assumptions and delve deeper into the intricate dynamics at play.
The screenplay, crafted by Sakamoto Yuji and awarded the Best Screenplay at Cannes, expertly navigates the recalibration of incidents and perspectives. Each segment offers new insights, leading to a revelation of the true nature of the relationships between Minato, Yori (Hinata Hiiragi), and the events surrounding them.
In its final act, “Monster” delivers its most unforgettable segment, weaving together the scattered pieces of information to form a cohesive and profoundly moving narrative. While the film may take its time to reach this culmination, the journey is well worth the wait as viewers are invited to assemble the puzzle of perspectives and uncover the deeper truths hidden within.
In essence, “Monster” stands as a testament to Kore-eda’s mastery in storytelling, offering a poignant reflection on childhood, empathy, and the power of perspective. It is a film that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll, leaving audiences with a newfound appreciation for the intricacies of human relationships and the complexities of the world around us.