Review: The Third Murder – Sandom no satsujin (2017)

The Third Murder – Sandom no satsujin (2017)

Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda | 124 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Masaharu Fukuyama, Kôji Yakusho, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Mikako Ichikawa, Izumi Matsuoka, Isao Hashizume, Suzu Hirose, Hajime Inoue, Aju Makita, Ichirô Ogura, Yuki Saitô, Kôtarô Yoshida

Anyone who has read or seen a thriller before knows the concept. A murder has been committed, the perpetrator has confessed, all that is missing is a trial and a conviction. But then there is always a smart agent or lawyer who gets the feeling that something is not quite right. In search of the real truth, he takes the reader or viewer on an exciting quest, until everything is neatly completed and the reader or viewer can continue with the next thriller.

This concept forms the basis of the crime drama ‘The Third Murder’ by Japanese master film-maker Hirokazu Koreeda (‘After Life’, ‘Nobody Knows’). A factory director is murdered by a former employee. This Misumi has already committed a double murder in the past and was recently fired. A trio of lawyers do their best to prevent Misumi from being sentenced to death. One of those lawyers, Shigemori, dives deeper into the case and discovers that the factory director wasn’t too fresh a figure.

In ‘The Third Murder’ we investigate with the lawyer, slowly finding out what exactly happened (or not). Yet that murder story is more of a means than an end. As in many of Koreeda’s films, family relationships play a major role here, in this case between fathers and daughters. The scenes between lawyer Shigemori and his slightly derailed daughter are touching. Killer Misumi also has a daughter, whom he had to leave behind when he went to prison for his first murders. But the main daughter is the enigmatic Saki, a beautiful role played by Hirose Suzu.

For his theme, Koreeda borrows from writer Dostoevsky. What is guilt, is the death penalty just as bad as murder and do you have the right to kill a ‘bad’ person? These are questions to which there are no easy-to-use answers, but which do invite contemplation. Which immediately brings you to the problem of ‘The Third Murder’. For fans of crime dramas, the content of the film deviates too much from the genre. For lovers of family films and those who love contemplative art, all these crime developments get in the way again. So that ‘The Third Murder’ amuses and excites, but never completely satisfies.

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