21 February 2010

Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai --- I Just Didn’t Do It (review)

Director:  Masayuki Suo

Starring:  Ryo Kase, Asaka Seto

(info from IMBD.com)


After a discussion on “artistic movies” and their lack of happy endings with good friend secret codename Herb, we went in expecting a less-than-happy ending although we were pulling for a happy ending.  Our expectations won out.


I Just Didn’t Do It is about a young man wrongly accused of groping a young girl on a train.  Because he believes he shouldn’t be punished for something he didn’t do, he waits out for a trial on the matter.  The trial is long and grueling and frightening because of Japan’s 99.9% conviction rate.  This seems like one of those movies with a political moral, particularly to point out the flaws of the Japanese justice system.  A man who is genuinely innocent cannot walk free without working his tail off to defend himself.  And even then, he is judged so harshly that he cannot walk free. 


Lesson for visiting tourists:  Don’t commit a crime.


This movie was, in a word, tedious.  Running for two hours and twenty minutes, the movie really wore on me.  I found myself checking my watch periodically.  There was also the feel that this movie would go on for a long time during the movie.  The pacing calls for a long movie because it went through all the steps that go along with a Japanese trial.  Even so, the material wasn’t that interesting to me.  I enjoyed the conversational explanations between the lawyers and the accused (I forget his name) and his friends.  They helped me, as someone unfamiliar with Japan’s law, understand what was going on.  But I wonder if an average Japanese citizens knows a lot about the law system.  If I were to make this movie, though, I would fit in those explanations too.  You can’t assume your audience knows what’s going on all the time, I guess.


The pacing was kind of slow, but it fit the narrative.  Going at a fast pace in this movie would deter from it in terms of storytelling.  As being one of the audience, I thought the pacing slow.  The writers did a good job with the suspense.  Between the court trials and the conversational explanations, there was a definite uncertainly whether the accused would get off or not.


If I were to go back and watch this movie again, I just might be bored out of my mind.  There didn’t seem to be any interesting symbolism to keep an audience’s attention.  Unless they wanted to really point to the workings of the Japanese legal system to me, I wouldn’t want to see this movie again.


Overall, this movie was long, tedious, political, and slow-paced.  A one-timer, albeit an interesting watch.  Recommended for those who want an intelligent movie.

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