The film, set in 17th Century Japan, tells the story of a Samurai who arrives at a wealthy nobleman’s house and asks to commit ritual suicide in order to restore his lost honor from becoming the peasant that peace time has afforded him. The film expands on this simple premise in flashbacks and reveals a rich tapestry of events that unwinds to some shocking revelations. To say anymore is to ruin the beautiful story that screenwriter Kikumi Yamagishi has fashioned from Yasuhiko Takiguchi’s novel.
The film is directed with unusual restraint and poignancy by Miike, whose films are normally characterized by extreme graphic violence, sexual perversions and visual chaos, but with this and 13 Assassins, has steadily been building a reputation for his skilled fine craftsmanship, even if it is at the expense of the insane innovation of his earlier works. It also marks his first foray in 3D, which except for a brief scene set against falling snow, is unspectacular.
Moving, stunningly made and ultimately heart breaking in its final conclusion, Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai is a must see.
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is screening in the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival. Check here for screening times.