Review (Scott Mc Cutcheon 13/03/24)

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda hasn’t made a film in his homeland since the Palme d’Ore winning and Oscar nominated Shoplifters back in 2018. Since then he’s directed two films, the English and French-language The Truth (2019) and the Korean-language Broker (2022).

Marking his return to his country of birth Monster is a multi-stranded story that revolves around a single mother (Mitsuki Takahata) and her fifth grade son, Minato (Soya Kurokwa). The story is told from the perspective of the films three main characters in what is essentially three different acts.

The first involves Minato’s mother who becomes increasingly disturbed by his behaviour. After she finds him in an abandoned railway tunnel and after he throws himself from her moving car, she finds that he’s been assaulted and ridiculed at school by his teacher Mr Hori (Eita Nagayama). Confronting the head of the school Mr Hori is subsequently sacked from his role.

In flashback we’re then told the story from Mr Hori’s point of view. Hounded by the press and abandoned by his partner his version of events are unsurprisingly at odds with Minato’s.

Finally we get to see the story from young Minato’s eyes which untimely is the real truth. To say anything further about the plot would be something of a spoiler so it’s probably best to leave it at that.

Performances are terrific with young Soya Kurokwa and Hinata Hiiragi who plays Minoto’s friend Yori both being terrific.

Special mention should go to music which plays as much of a pivotal role as the actors. Wonderfully composed and fitting perfectly with the mode of the film Monster was sadly the last music composed by the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto as he died before the film was released.

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film is a beautifully crafted and emotional piece of storytelling that deserves to join the likes of Zone of Interest and Anatomy of a Fall as essential cinema viewing.



2h 06m

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Eita Nagayama, Sakura Andô, Soya Kurokawa

UK Release: Cinemas 15th March 2024