“Bad Lands”: this Japanese thriller on Netflix is ​​an excellent surprise

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The ingredients of a good film noir

On paper we have all the ingredients of a good film noir. Neri Hashioka is a young woman who participates in financial blackmail. She supervises the receiver who will have to recover the sums of money extorted from politicians. She works in Osaka under the responsibility of Takagi, her father linked to the underworld. She utilizes the services of unemployed and homeless people who live in a community within the “village.”

When her half-brother Jo is released from prison, she convinces Takagi to include him in her plans. Things go wrong when Jo decides to rob Takagi and the yakuza and police get involved.

The advantages of the “Bad Lands”

For Western audiences, bad lands It seems confidential. However, its director Masato Harada is not unknown. This former film critic signed Hell dogs, another thriller available on Netflix for a year. In Japan he is recognized for Sekigahara (2017), historical war film about this important battle in Japanese history.

Neri is played by Sakura Ando, ​​one of the most prominent Japanese actresses. He was discovered in Shokuzai (2012) by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Danish magazine a family matter (2018) by Hirokazu Kore-eda. She also appears in The innocenceof the same, which comes out on January 10, in a radically different role.

Shokuzai: The Ghost of Guilt

She demonstrates her palette at bad lands, like a young woman traumatized by life, who has become independent and accustomed to going unnoticed. Without the geek side, there’s Lisbeth Salander (millennium) in this character marked by violence and who develops a very personal philosophy of life and crime.

why we love

bad lands presents an almost naturalistic approach. Masato Harada avoids the spectacular excesses of yakuza films. His film has nothing to do with the latter, but he nevertheless describes this environment well, as well as that of the jealous police officers.

There is a bit of Melville (cult director in Japan) in his meticulous description of the criminals’ methods. Harada guarantees a human and credible representation of a hidden reality of Japan (its poor, its homeless, relegated to the margins). He avoids the ease of the spectacular. The violence inherent to the underworld in which Neri evolves deafens several characters. It is tangible but little exposed and never free.

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Special attention is paid to the characters. Good cinema and good performances are those that do not say everything but where we feel behind each protagonist an entire life, an entire universe. The secondary roles, numerous, exist, brilliantly portrayed and cheesy: Takagi, second knife of the underworld, but imposing despite everything, Mandala, the former yakuza who was left homeless, Chiharu, the assistant of the brutal Goya, the director of the clandestine gambling den.

There’s also this poetic “Monday Priestess,” straight out of a Hayao Myazaki film. It’s just a silhouette, but it will play a decisive role. It is the image of a film that is distinguished by the care taken in the most insignificant details.

bad lands Thriller De et écrit by Masato Harada. With Sakura Ando, ​​Ryôsuke Yamada, Noriko Eguchi, Katsuhisa Namase,… 2h23

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