Accused of the murder of a girl he met on a dating site, Yuichi (Satoshi Tsumabaki) goes on the run with his latest hookup, Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu), while the family of the dead girl struggle to put their lives back together, and make sense of the tragedy. (Twin Peaks was huge in Japan, remember.) The pervasive sense of social realism, so rare in Japanese cinema, may explain the lavish praise showered on Lee’s film, and the bestseller it was adapted from, in its native Japan. We in the west, where such naturalism is commonplace, may be left scratching our heads at the film’s occasional lapses into melodrama and histrionic overacting, while to describe the pace as glacial would be to insult the dizzying speeds of which continent-sized ice shelves are comparatively capable. Students on an Oriental Studies course will likely find Villain fascinating for the insight it gives into Japanese culture. The rest of us may just be bored.
Villain (Akunin) (Empire review)