The Third Murder

Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda's latest follows the thickening fog around a murder trial that may not be as straightforward as it seems

Film Review by Ross McIndoe | 14 Mar 2018
  • The Third Murder
Film title: The Third Murder
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Suzu Hirose , Shinnosuke Mitsush, Mikako Ichikawa, Izumi Matsuoka, Yuki Saito, Kōtarō Yoshida, Isao Hashizume, Kōji Yakusho
Release date: 23 Mar
Certificate: 15

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s courtroom drama The Third Murder begins with the killer having already confessed. After the case is dumped into the lap of lawyer Shigemori (Fukuyama), he wearily sets about the business of bartering for the softest sentence. He and his partners wonder airily about contacting the defendant’s daughter, but she lives too far away and their expenses wouldn’t be covered. Shigemori’s wide-eyed assistant occasionally chimes in to question the killer’s motive, the meaning of what happened. He is brusquely brushed off – their business is legal strategy, the truth is someone else’s concern.

As they interview the client, things begin to look a little less certain. Misumi (Kôji Yakusho) has a wispy gentleness to him, like a quiet child, retreating into himself as soon as his version of events is challenged. New revelations arise from in and outside the interview room, and Shigemori gradually finds himself drawn into Misumi’s maze, chasing truth in a thickening fog.

“Psychiatry isn’t science, it’s literature.” So says Shigemori’s father, a former judge who took pity on Misumi many years ago and spared him the death penalty. He takes solace now in the belief that killers are born wrong, regretting only that he didn’t execute Misumi when he had the chance. Others are less sure. After its violent beginning, The Third Murder is a movie of quiet conversations, characters reaching for truth and meaning in a world ruled by chance. They all look at the same evidence and try to tell a story they can live with.

From its melancholy piano score to its steady, deliberate pacing, there’s a gentleness to The Third Murder, a sadness tinged sweet around the edges. It's a film imbued with sympathy, reaching out to better understand even in the darkest circumstance.


The Third Murder screened at Glasgow Film Festival 2018
Released 23 Mar by Arrow Films

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Theatre and the CCA, and online at theskinny.co.uk/film/cineskinny