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cure (kiyoshi kurosawa, 1997)

Earlier this year, Kiyoshi Kurosawa released a film that is titled “Creepy” in the U.S. and many other places. Cure is the first of his films I have seen, and I can already see how nearly twenty years later, he’d turn out something Creepy.

It reminded me a bit of American procedurals like Criminal Minds, which features a serial killer of the week. But where a show like Criminal Minds seems to wallow in the killers, Cure takes a different approach. The police try to identify the killer, but their job is both easy and difficult, for with each murder, someone immediately takes credit for the act ... and it’s a different person each time. We don’t see the act of killing, we see the post-murder victims, so the focus isn’t on the pleasure of the murderer, but on the brutality done to the victim. Eventually it becomes clear that someone is influencing the killers in some unknown way.

What follows is part psychological study, part fantasy, and Kurosawa doesn’t ground the film in the real. (Neither does he fall completely into fantasy. It’s an interesting blend.) Cure derives most of its power from the performances of Kôji Yakusho as the policeman, and Masato Hagiwara as the “influencer”. Memory and self-identity are the key to it all, and honestly, it would be a bit cheesy if Yakusho and Hagiwara weren’t so convincing. Kurosawa creates an ambiguous atmosphere, and Cure is ultimately, yes, creepy. But it’s much ado about nothing in the end. Kurosawa seems to be reaching for some deep statement about life, but I liked Cure despite the overreaching, not because of it. 7/10.

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