CUFF 2015 review: ‘The World of Kanako’

Tuesday 21st, April 2015 / 16:20
By Rory O’Dwyer

CALGARY — “Fuck.” That is one of the best ways one could describe the experience of viewing Tetsuya Nakashima’s latest film. Based on the crime-thriller novel Hateshinaki Kawaki by Akio Fukamachi, the film is an abusive ride which pushes the limits of what is acceptable and tasteful within cinema, then goes even further than you’d imagine.

The film follows former detective Akikazu Fujishima (Kōji Yakusho) as he stumbles, fights and rapes his way to finding out where his daughter, Kanako (Nana Komatsu), has disappeared to and who is responsible for her disappearance. Yes, you did read that correctly. Not only does the film portray rape (three times to be exact) but Fujishima is constantly abusing, assaulting and, horrifically, misogynistic to almost every woman he encounters during the course of the film. This fact alone makes the film a troubling trial to sit through.

Beyond its understandably upsetting content, the film seems to hide behind visually abusive flashes of form and style to make up for (or mask) its content. Nakashima uses so many cuts, filters and visual styles during the course of the film that it becomes optically tiering to view the film. Asides from its aesthetic, the story of The World of Kanako is fairly basic and unimaginative once it is stripped down to its core essentials. But the film does its damndest to stop you from getting to this conclusion due to the borderline incoherent manner in which it doles out information to the audience.

While Yakusho does put in a physically admirable, and barbaric, performance as the wasted detective Fujishima, it does not make up for the destruction the character leaves in his wake. During the course of the film, Fujishima leaves a bloody trail of misogyny and assault that leads to an anti-climactic conclusion that in no way justifies the means used by Fujishima to achieve his end.

Nakashima has created a film which had the potential to be groundbreaking, fresh and challenging. But the only way The World of Kanako will challenge you is to test how much abuse you’d be willing to stomach for 118 minutes.

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