(This post includes a brief plot description and an explanation about the ending of the film Kokuhaku/ Confessions. Beware of spoilers.)
Hollywood may be huge, but Asian Cinema is the place where the hidden gems are at. I finally had the chance to watch Kokuhaku and it blew my mind. Honestly, it’s one of those films that will make you question things. It might even haunt you after days.
Kokuhaku – Plot Description
The story is pretty straightforward: a little girl (Manami) dies and her mother (Yuko Moriguchi) seeks revenge. However, Kokuhaku is not your typical thriller. The identities of the murderers are revealed almost right away. So what’s the fun? The audience doesn’t know the motive. So, the whole story is narrated from the perspective of three people: the grieving mother and the two degenerates that killed her daughter.
Do not judge the film by its first 5 minutes. Honestly, when I first started to watch I was like — “no, no, no”… After the announcement of the her daughter’s death I was like — “yes, yes, yes”… That might sound terrible, but hey… from this point on things start to get really interesting. Soon, we learn that the degenerates that killed her daughter are two students from her class: Shuya Watanabe and Naoki Shimomura. Luckily for us (the viewers), the story doesn’t end here. The perpetrators are about the learn that they’ve messed with the wrong teacher!
The “Contaminated” Milk Incident
So what does the grieving mother do? She puts blood, HIV infected blood (from her late husband) into the boy’s milk cartons! In addition, she let’s them know that! She wants them to know that she’s aware of what they’ve done to her daughter. This confession sets the boys into a panic mode. Drinking milk with HIV infected blood is not a plausible method of transmission. However, they don’t know that.
As the story unravels, we learn that Naoki has become a shut-in. The idea of drinking the “contaminated” milk was just too much for him. He now believes that he has AIDS. Now, his “condition” not only affects him but also the ones close to him, especially his mother. In end, he does the unthinkable: he kills his mother too!
What about Shuya? What happened to the supposedly “mastermind” behind the little girl’s murder? Well, turns out that he has huge mommy issues. Basically, his mother “abandoned” him while he was still a child. Ever since then, he lives to prove to his mother that he’s not a f*ck up. Meanwhile, he starts spending more and more time with Mizuki Kitahara (a fellow classmate), who’s just as f*cked up as he is. However, things get sour really quick when she confronts Shuya about his obsession with his mother. Apparently, it’s a taboo subject. The boy didn’t like her tone and he killed her!
The “Bomb” Incident
At this point, it’s more than clear that Shuya is desperate to get his mother’s attention. Finally, he grows some balls and decides to pay her a visit. However, he finds out that she’s built a whole another life without him and that crushed him. What does the little brat do? He goes home and builds a bomb to kill all of his classmates at the graduation ceremony. This fool doesn’t care about anybody! However, someone is one step of him.
Moriguchi found out where the bomb was and placed it at his mother’s office. Therefore, when he set the trigger to make the bomb explode, he was actually killing his own mother. In addition, Moriguchi calls him to rub it on his face. As you might have imagined, Shuya is feeling devastated and defeated. Then, Moriguchi appears at the graduation ceremony and tells him that his redemption was about to start and ends with a “just kidding”.
Kokuhaku – Characters & Motivations
Yuko Moriguchi — The Grieving Mother
She starts as a very low-key teacher but then turns into one bad bitch. I mean it, as a compliment. Her story couldn’t be more unfortunate: her fiancé learns that he has contracted HIV which lead them to call off their wedding. Later on, her daughter Manami is a victim of a really vile crime. As you might have guessed, she went a little bit crazy after this.
Shuya Watanabe and Naoki Shimomura — The Degenerates
Shuya is one of those people that believe being smart is the most important thing the world. In his little mind, there’s him and the creatures beneath him (rest of the world).
Naoki is a follower. He has no friends, so when he meets Shuya, it’s was like a match made in heaven. He might believe that hurting Moriguchi’s daughter was also his idea, but he’s just a puppet. He’s the type of person that will do the stupidest things, just to prove he’s not stupid.
Mizuki Kitahara — The Bad Boy Chaser
Mizuki represents the stereotypical female character that falls for the “bad boy”. Such a cliché. I wonder when will they start to write male characters that fall for the “bad girl” — I said “fall”, not “lust”. So, what happens when you play with fire? Yes, that’s what happened to little Mizuki.
Kokuhaku – Ending Explained
That “just kidding” at the end really got me. What did Moriguchi mean? Was it a “just kidding” like “I didn’t really kill your mother”? Or a “just kidding” because there’s no redemption for you? In my opinion, I believe it’s the latter. Moriguchi wasn’t trying to teach Shuya a lesson, her intent was to crush him as hard as she could. Guess what? She succeeded! The two degenerates got what they deserved! She knew the law wasn’t going to punish them because they were minors. Therefore, she decided to take matters into her own hands. It’s ironic how both boys ended up losing their mothers because of their stupid actions. Call it poetic justice, if you want.
Final Thoughts on Kokuhaku
The premise of Kokuhaku did not shocked me. However, the motive behind the murder of the little girl really pissed me off. That’s why I called the two teenagers degenerates. Age is not a valid reason to justify cruelty. They should have known better. As I said before, I truly enjoyed Kokuhaku. Do not feel intimidated by its slow pace, it may look like a turtle but it’s powerful like a tiger. A real roller-coaster of emotions.