Release Date: N/A
Duration: 99 mins.
Director: Anshul Chauhan
Writer: Rand Colter, Mina Moteki, Anshul Chauhan (Script),
Starring: Shogen, Megumi, Ryo Matsuura, Shingo Fujimori, Toru Kizu, Takuzo Shimizu, Miki Maya
Anshul Chauhan has carved a place for himself in the Japanese film industry as a true maverick. His first two feature films, Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017) and Kontora (2020), were both indie movies, both based on original ideas, and both featuring a cast of relative unknowns who he worked with intensely to draw out raw performances which he presented in visually dynamic ways. The force and uniqueness of his films distinguished his dramatic works in such a way that they won him play on the festival circuit, awards, and notice as filmmaker to track.
For his third feature, he changes tack and teams up with a rising star and globe-trotting actor Shogen, to make a legal drama. It looks more mainstream and like it has a bigger budget but scratch the surface of genre and its looks and you will see that it features Chauhan’s trademark tackling of thorny emotional issues as he addresses murder and justice.
December begins with a court notice being delivered. The recipients are Katsu Higuchi (Shogen) and his ex-wife Sumiko (Megumi). They were a couple until their marriage broke up after the death of their 17-year-old daughter Emi (Miki Maya). Now separated, their lives have taken radically different paths as Katsu exists as an ex-writer trapped in a haze of alcohol and anger while Sumiko has tried to move on by marrying another man. They find themselves brought back together again by the news that their daughter’s killer, Kana Fukada (Ryo Matsuura), will get a retrial.
The man who has set this reunion up is Takumi Sato (Toru Kizu), a wily defence lawyer who believes Kana was offered a raw deal at her original trial and has now been reformed. The death of a child is always highly emotive but he is laser-focussed on legal loopholes and processes as he thinks he can get a reduction in Kana’s sentence. His efforts necessitate reopening old wounds in public but in doing this he offers a second chance at life for Kana and, unexpectedly, Katsu and Sumiko.
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