Daily Films

Short reviews of the movies I watch. All points out of 100.


Entry #84: Cure (K. Kurosawa) [3/365]

A- (86)


Truth be told, after the ending I was tempted to skip this one and cover the obscure A Colt is My Passport instead, because the only possible criticism I could offer readily for Cure would be ‘huh? wtf? wait, play that over again’—it’s an odd puzzle movie, that’s for sure. Browsing the internet for explanations, though, has made it easier to recommend the movie, just that too much of the plot is spoiler-y, so I won’t be able to do much with it other than technical complaints. Suffice to say that it revolves around a detective and a murder-perpetrator, uses its beguiling premise to create tension in some very unlikely scenes (what other movie makes leaky roofs a veritable horror?), and ends on a deliberately ambiguous note. For the longest time, though, I thought that the plot was Cure's main draw, until I reached the end and was able to reconcile some directorial decisions here and there that suddenly made the mystery of the film seem less consequential.

One of the problems that I had throughout the movie was the lack of transition cuts. It seemed to match cuts that were completely unrelated to each other, pushing seemingly random pieces against each without much pattern or development. But thinking over it again, the movie does revolve around seemingly non-associative imagery, and their ability to lead people to conclusions—there it finds its only similarity to Audition, which is a willful distortion of audience expectation—so the deliberately off-putting editing work might merely be part of a grander thematic scheme (certainly, the quick cuts right after Takabe finds the lair seem to indicate this). One aspect that I found thoroughly engrossing all the way through is the performance of Mayami—who knew amnesiacs could be so scary when they remember things? Questions, questions, questions, flicker, flicker. Kurosawa dips into our mystery-thriller tendencies and sets a layout for Mayami’s method, effectively introducing him as a symbol of tension and danger. I won’t be the one to explain the bizzaro ending, but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken completely literally. Despite the matter-of-fact realistic style the movie adopts, there’s enough logical discontinuity within the last few scenes to suggest many realities, some of which are implied and some of which are shown. Kurosawa had laid down the imagery and planted the suggestion, and is trying to lead us to a simple, horrible conclusion. Yet lurking beyond the frame, there might be a better, more stomachable explanation, and the movie certainly leaves room for something… but what?

Ratings: (34/40, 9/10)

  • 3 January 2012
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