The Scythian Lamb
Hitsuji no Ki
Gateway | Gateway
To boost the dwindling population in a seaside town, six ex-convicts are released into the community, unbeknownst to residents. The ragtag bunch comprises an old yakuza, a libidinous nurse, a nervous barber, a cleaning woman obsessed with dead animals, a boatman with a menacing hiss, and a taciturn courier. Well-meaning city hall official Tsukisue (pop idol Nishikido Ryo) strives to rehabilitate them, until the charismatic, inscrutable courier Miyakoshi (Matsuda Ryuhei, Before We Vanish) seduces his dreamgirl. When a dead body is found, violent pasts emerge and the curse of Nororo, the town’s Kraken-like mythic god, is ominously reawakened.
Yoshida Daihachi, whose Beautiful Star was a huge hit at last year’s VIFF, slyly slides from wry satire of Japanese country life to a frightening pagan realm of evil, chaos and retribution. While revealing the insularity of Japanese society, this tense mystery questions whether villainy comes from social conditioning or is embedded one’s DNA, Weaving a Central Asian myth about a tree of lambs into Japanese folklore and kaiju cults, this twisted fable recalls Yorgos Lanthimos’ unsettling tragicomedies that reveal the dangerous weaknesses in human nature.
Kim Jiseok Award, Busan 17