Gukoroku - Traces of Sin
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
As dark and haunting as this movie is, it’s still thrilling entertainment—a seductive, twist-filled mystery. Tsumabuki Satoshi, star of VIFF 14 smash The Vancouver Asahi, plays Tanaka, an intrepid crime reporter. As his sister Mitsuko (Mitsushima Hikari) languishes in jail, he turns his attention to a different matter: the unsolved murder of a businessman, his wife and their child. Tanaka questions old friends, lovers and enemies, and we see their stories come alive in flashback. What emerges is a picture of snobbery, sexism and exploitation among the Japanese elite.
As an exploration of class politics, the film is fascinating; as a critique of male privilege, it’s provocative; and as a whodunit thriller, it’s gripping. Tanaka is dogged in his pursuit of the truth, and as he moves closer to it, buried motivations come to light and the distinction between perpetrator and prey gets murky. The film has a core of rage and violence, but everything—including graphic murder—is conveyed in hushed, funereal tones. Gukoroku is, like most good crime stories, both dismaying and satisfying: it’s a pleasure to cut through to the truth, even if the revelations are tragic.