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Yogisha X no Kenshin

Suspect X

Japan 2008
produced by
Amuse Pictures, Cine Bazar, S.D.P., Fuji Television/Toho
directed by Hiroshi Nichitani
starring Masaharu Fukuyama, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Kou Shibasaki, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Miho Kanazawa, Kazuki Kitamura, Dankan, Keishi Nagatsuka, Ikkei Watanabe, Hiroshi Shinagawa, Miki Maya, Yasufumi Hayashi, Toru Masuoka, Lily Franky, Koji Ishizaka, Ayaka Komatsu, Masaki Miura, Ryü Morioka, Takuji Suzuki, Toshihide Tonesaku, Akiko Yagi
screenplay by Yasushi Fukuda, based on the story by Keigo Higashino, music by Masaharu Fukuyama, Yuugo Kanno

Garireo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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One night, Yasuko (Yasuko Matsuyuki) and her daughter Misato (Miho Kanazawa) receive a visit from Yasuko's violent ex-husband (Keishi Nagatsuka), and before you know it, they have killed him in self-defense. Somehow, their neighbour Ishigami (Shinichi Tsutsumi), a maths teacher, has become an involuntary witness of the whole thing, but instead of reporting the whole thing, he helps Yasuko and daughter to cover it up, even though they hardly know each other.

Days later, Yasuko and Misato are questioned about the murder, but (thanks to Ishigami), they have an airtight alibi, and the more they are questioned, the more facts turn up to corroborate their story. Cops Utsumi (Kou Shibasaki) and Kusanagi (Kazuki Kitamura) find themselves at a loss, because on one hand they are sure the women are guilty, on the other hand, all facts prove them innocent, so they turn to their scientist friend Galileo Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama), who has helped them with impossible cases in the past. Yukawa at first seems less than interested though ... until he learns that the two suspects' neighbour is Ishigami, a man he knows from university and considers a genius like himself - and now for Yukawa it becomes a battle of wits ...

Meanwhile, Yasuko starts dating another man, much to the dismay of Ishigami, who at first wants to force her into submission based on the things he has done for her - but eventually he realizes he has become exactly the kind of asshole Yasuko's ex has been, and to make amends, he gives himself up to the police as Yasuko's ex's murderer - and even though that's not the truth, all facts add up ...

Yukawa confronts Ishigami one final time with his version of what has really happened, that Ishigami killed a man the day after the actual murder and sold him off as Yasuko's ex in order to give her and her daughter plenty of opportunity to create an airtight alibi, and meanwhile he scattered Yasuko's ex's bodyparts all over town to never be found - thus the women never had to lie when it came to their alibi, no matter how they were grilled by authorities. Ishigami admits to this only very indirectly and inofficially, as he rather sacrifices himself for Yasuko.

But why?

Because when they moved into his appartment building, he was already on the verge of killing himself, and only their kindness kept him from doing so ...

 

Essentially, this is a big-screen version of the popular Japanese TV-series Garireo, which also stars Masaharu Fukuyama as the scientist turned detective - however, plotwise the film easily stands on its own feet and is perfectly comprehensible for anyone who has no knowledge about the series, too.

In fact, Suspect X is quite a clever murder mystery that seems to present all the facts in plain sight right at the beginning, yet throws in so many twists and turns that it in the end seems to tell a totally different story - even though rather ironically, the solution to the puzzle - love - is given away in the first five minutes. In all its cleverness, the film is not perfect though, mainly because it loses steam exactly when it's supposed to really get going: when everything is supposed to race upon a solution, the film is taking a detour, losing its up until now steady pace and never really picking it up again later. Which is a pity, because clocking in at over two hours, the film could easily have done with a few cuts in length anyways without losing feature length, and could have been widely improved at the same time.

Still, as it is, the film might fall short of being a genre masterpiece, but it's an above-average murder mystery anyways.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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special appearances by
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directed by
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written by
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produced by
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