Oguri Shun’s 2010 directorial début is a interesting example of how to mix comedy with organised crime without lessening the impact of either. The storyline is that five schoolboys threaten to blow up a schoolroom (or two) unless the school changes its decision about not holding a cultural event that year. The school agrees, but they are unable to stop the bomb from going off.
Three years later, a chance occurrence throws four of the five back together as they find themselves caught up in a mystery of disappearing people, yakuza bosses, and 300 million yen - all of which had something to do with a woman in a magazine ten years ago. The story could be a shocking mess, but it’s to the writer’s credit that it makes sense. Oguri Shun makes sure that the three time periods (now, three years ago, and ten years ago) can be recognised quickly, and the acting is great.
Koide Keisuke takes the lead role with confidence. By chance, I’ve been watching a lot of his stuff recently and he’s pretty good. It makes me wonder what he was thinking when he took his role in Nodame Cantabile, but I guess it made him some money. Also worth mentioning is Konishi Manami. She’s perfect in this film as the woman at the heart of the mystery. But then, she’s always at her best when she’s playing the role of the intelligent, beautiful, but unattainable femme fatale.
The film succeeds because when it’s trying to be funny, it’s funny and when it wants to be threatening, it is. It’s also shot in a very unpretentious style, often making good use of boring locations. In all, this is a cleverly written and well-made film which is harder than your average comedy (or softer than the usual yakuza film) but is no worse for that.