#TIFF23: “MONSTER” REVIEW
By George Kozera
MONSTER opens very straightforwardly as we see single mother, Saori (Sakura Ando) and her pre-teen son Minato (Soya Kurasawa) watch a raging fire from their balcony as the building collapses. It is rumoured that the building housed a sleazy hostess-bar and a teacher from Minato’s school Mr. Hori (Eita Nagayama) was spotted leaving the establishment. In explaining his recent bout of sullenness, Minato tells his mother that Mr. Hori not only physically assaulted him but also humiliated him in class by calling him “pig brain”. Infuriated, Saori confronts the school principal, who is still grieving the death of her grandson, and gets an insincere apology from the teacher, principal and other school administrators until it is alleged that Minato is, in fact, a bully tormenting young Hoshikawa (Hinata Hiiragi) incessantly. With deft use of flashbacks and differing points of view, the mystery driven nature of MONSTER is truly an astonishing achievement.
Other than Steven Spielberg, there are few Filmmakers who triumphantly draw amazing, naturalistic performances from children than Japanese Director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters). Here, not only does he excel, he keeps the audience intrigued throughout as he tackles topics as diverse as bullying, lying, the fragility of youth and deceptions by adults. MONSTER is a masterpiece of tones, non-linear storytelling as well as being visually arresting. It may be one the most lyrical, poignant and compassionate movies of the year and I will savour this Movie again and again.
MONSTER screens at TIFF ’23:
Sunday, September 10, TIFF Bell Lightbox. 9:30PM
Monday, September 11. Scotiabank, 3:00PM