Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Suspect X (Yôgisha X No Kenshin)


I have mulled over the story for a bit, and while I'm fairly convinced in the way it presented itself to stay true to its theme, I can't help but feel that I'm still suckered into feeling the same way as the cops do, in being made to see things from one singular point of view just because the logic points itself that way conveniently, rather than to peek around the corner and see it under a different light. But if you believe and buy into its idea and rationale, then Suspect X's story would appeal to you definitely.

Which is the power of love, which by itself causes one to do irrational things. I won't refute the point though, because otherwise we won't see florists making a killing during the already-so-commercialized-it's-meaningless Valentine's day. To make its point, we have someone who's highly logical in manners, demeanour and genetic makeup, to undergo a transformation due to being struck by cupid's arrow. But does this irrationality extend to assisting and becoming an accessory to murder? One can only wonder.

That in itself is the issue that one has to buy into, in order to enjoy the film. A murder is committed by a single mother and child, and because he is smitten with his love for that single mother, mathematics genius and professor Tetsuya Ishigami (Shinichi Tsutsumi) helps them by applying deep logic into the creation of alibis, and instructing them with pinpoint accuracy, their behaviour, answers and such when the police come knocking on their door. There's a twist to it all of course, but it's more akin to the treatment as seen in Confession of Pain, where the extent of the killings had its hand shown early in the film, so those looking for a whodunnit, or an investigative crime drama where the investigators get stumped, would be expecting a totally different film altogether.

Instead, the story goes behind and looks at motivation. The deed is done, but the mystery here is the Why, and here's where help to the cops, come in the form of expert physicist Galileo Yukawa (Fukuyama Masaharu). The opening scene that set the stage had actually piqued my interest, as we see a classroom experiment seamlessly transition into a full scale, military styled showcase. Unfortunately, that's just one of the better parts of the film in terms of using scientific knowledge to help solve crimes. Unlike L in The Death Note series, the intelligence quotient here has some real world links (hey it's physics after all), and our hero has zero affiliation with law enforcement, helping only because of the challenge the situation posed. Don't expect some heavy theorems being thrown at your face, as the story smartly avoids situations to alienate its audience.

In fact, what it boiled down to, was succinctly summarized in one line where two friendly adversaries face off with each other across a road. The question posed was which side each of them was on, whether one would prefer to create the perfect, unsolvable puzzle, or to be the one who can solve the unsolvable puzzle, where for both there is an answer to. To that, the setting of the stage, and the throwing of the gauntlet, I have to salute how director Hiroshi Nishitani had it all planned out and delivered.

Something that disturbed me a little during the film, was the not too subtle sexual discrimination against the female cop Kaoru Utsumi. A prime suspect is referred to as sexy (though I have to admit Yasuko Hanaoka does look attractive, being cast as a bar hostess), but the more surprising one, was how the cops in the department were pushing Kaoru around, often referring her to do some menial tasks like fetching coffee, or ridiculed against when she came across as unprepared. There wasn't any statement made about it, but happened more as a matter-of-fact. Perhaps to echo some sentiments that such discrimination still happens?

As mentioned, it took me a while to mull upon the film, looking at it from a separate angle than I first had when the end credits roll. I may not had subscribed to the plausibility of how love can affect oneself to do silly things, to the extreme as that in the story, but I suppose it can happen given many crimes of passion that we read about from time to time, and with the little nugget of wonders that happen at sporadic intervals throughout, I'm come to the verdict that Suspect X is still worth your while. Just chuck that expectation of a whodunnit-mystery-thriller at the door.

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