Friday, 7 July 2017

Kotoko (4 Stars)

This is a very disturbing film. It fascinates the viewer, while enticing him into a world of madness. I felt its pull on me as well. I've never cut my wrists, but after watching the film I sat thinking that maybe I should try it. That's not good. Any film that makes a person want to slit his wrists is dangerous.

Kotoko is a single mother living in a small city in Japan. Ever since her childhood she's seen people double. One person is good while the other is evil. The only way she can stop herself seeing double and protecting herself against the evil manifestations is by singing. She has to sing whenever she goes out in public. Sometimes she even sees a double of her son Daijiro. If she could kill the evil twin she would be happy, but what if she kills the wrong one? Before she can decide her son is taken away from her and put into her sister's care.

She doesn't want to marry anyone. She wears a wedding ring to scare men away. If that's not enough and a man takes her on a date, she stabs his hand with a fork. That's enough to keep her single until she meets the eccentric novelist Tanaka. He's been following her ever since he heard her singing on the train. After two dates he sits with two bandaged hands and proposes to her. He moves in with her, and an abusive relationship follows. The only way Kotoko can be happy with someone is to hurt him. She beats him to a bloody pulp, then waits for him to heal before starting again. He accepts it because he loves her.

The scariest part of the film for me isn't the domestic abuse, it's the wrist cutting. Kotoko cuts her wrists on a regular basis, not to kill herself, but to test herself, to see whether she deserves to carry on living. Self harm is a way of life. It's presented as normal that she cuts her wrists every day, not just one cut, a series of parallel cuts on both arms that leave pools of blood on the floor.

Is "Kotoko" a good film? Probably it is, but it isn't a question of good and bad. It's a depraved film that will punch you in the stomach and leave you gasping for breath. Even if you enjoy the film you won't want to watch it often.

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