Director Barbet Schroeder makes an ambitious attempt to revisit, in spirit, some of the great B-movies and thrillers of the past in ‘Inju, the Beast in the Shadow,’ which starts out as a smart romp through exotic Japan, only to spiral down into disappointing predictability after a hot opening half-hour. Inspired by a book by cult writer Edogawa Rampo and shot in French and Japanese, the film promises much more than it ultimately delivers. Commercial prospects will rest on the imaginatively recreated Kyoto atmosphere and vivid characters, not least a beautiful geisha into S&M.
“Inju” has its watchable moments and a pleasing, dream-like atmosphere. In the role of the not easily likeable novelist, Magimel recalls a Dan Brown hero seen through a glass darkly. Newcomer Lika Minamoto makes an impact as the fascinating geisha, acting her way credibly through a range of tough situations, from dancing demurely in costume and traditional white make-up to playing the last scene completely in the nude while suspended from a leather harness. All the tech work excels, particularly Fumio Ogawa’s sets recreating Kyoto, Luciano Tovoli’s splashy colored lighting, and Jorge Arriagada’s score echoing classic thrillers.
Deborah Young The Hollywood reporter
“Oral, written and visual storytelling traditions converge in Inju, The Beast In The Shadow, a duel of wits between two successful novelists – one a media staple, the other a recluse – and the geisha girl with a connection to both men,” writes Lisa Nesselson in Screen Daily. “Along with Roman Polanski’s Frantic, Barbet Schroeder’s tale of obsession and manipulation fits snugly into the niche of jetlag thrillers in which a nice foreigner gets swept up in potentially lethal complications that never let up, generating their own momentum and logic.”
Adapted from a novel by Edogawa Rampo (the Edgar Allan Poe of Japanese literature), it is pitched somewhere between a B-thriller and Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses. Corny plot twists, transgressive sex and self-reflexive asides about cinema sit side by side. Many in Venice found it preposterous and it was given a rough ride by the volatile Italian press. Nonetheless, there is one level on which it was beyond criticism. Director Barbet Schroeder is adamant that he has represented geisha culture (or, as the Japanese prefer to call it, ‘geiko’ culture) in a way that no Japanese audience can find fault with.” (The guardian)
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Language(s):French, Japanese, English (on same track)