さがす (Sagasu)

Japan/South Korea, 2021, 124’, Japanese
Directed by: Katayama Shinzo
Screenplay: Katayama Shinzo, Kotera Kazuhisa, Takada Ryo
Photography (color): Ikeda Naoya
Editing: Kataoka Hazuki
Art Direction: Matsuzuka Takashi 
Music: Takai Hiyoko
Producers: Ide Yoko, Yamano Akira, Harada Koji
Executive Producers: Tsuchikawa Tsutomu, Teshima Masao, Nakada Keisuke
Cast: Sato Jiro, Ito Aoi, Shimizu Hiroya, Morita Misato, Ishii Shotaro

Date of First Release in Territory: January 21st, 2022

Missing is the commercial feature debut of Katayama Shinzo, who served as assistant director for Korean master Bong Joon-ho and won Best Picture at the 2018 Skip City International D-Cinema Festival for his first film as director, Siblings of the Cape
Based on Katayama’s original script, Missing has some of darkness and grittiness of his previous film, in which a disabled man pimps out his severely autistic sister, but it’s also a serial killer thriller with a black comic vibe and a plot designed to keep you guessing. That is, it’s intended as entertainment, though hardly of the munch-popcorn-and-turn-off-your-brain variety. Set in Katayama’s native Osaka, it reflects the real hardscrabble lives of those living on society’s margins, as well as the character of Osakans, who tend to be more open and rougher around the edges than their more reserved counterparts in Tokyo.  
The story centers on the stolid, depressed Harada Satoshi (Sato Jiro), who once ran a ping pong club, but is now unemployed, and his spunky teenage daughter Kaede (Ito Aoi), who as the film begins comes to her dad’s rescue when he is caught shoplifting. 
After she wangles his release, Satoshi tells her he has seen a serial killer with a three million yen ($26,000) reward on his head. That money would solve their economic worries, but the next day Satoshi goes missing, for reasons unexplained, and Kaede, together with a male classmate (Ishii Shotaro) who is obnoxiously after her to be his girlfriend, go in search of him. 
Directed to a work site for day laborers, they find a tall guy with glasses who has the same full name as Kaede’s father. He also has a secretive manner that suggests “oddball loner.” Later she realizes that he looks like the killer on the wanted poster, Yamauchi Terumi. Then out of the blue, Satoshi sends her a text message saying, cryptically, that he is OK. What is going on here? Why did he vanish? And why did the killer – if that’s what he is – use Satoshi’s name as an alias?
Enough to say that, seeking the answers to these questions, and more Kaede’s and her would-be boyfriend take a ferry to a small island near Osaka. The island also draws a woman in a wheelchair who has a found, on a message board for the suicidal, someone who can help her achieve her long-held goal: An exit from a life she can no longer endure. Someone known as “No Name” who has helped others find what he calls “deliverance.”
Some scenes, such as Kaede’s frantic chase on a stolen bicycle through city back alleys after the fleeing man she suspects is the killer, verge on the comic, but others, such as an extended flashback showing the assisted (or rather “compelled”) suicide of Kaede’s ALS-afflicted mother, ranges from the disturbing to the stomach-turning.
Still, Satoshi never quite loses his humanity, though he ventures deep into the dark side. His salvation, we see, is his strong, unbreakable love for his wife and daughter. The killer, by contrast, who justifies his deeds as a service to his victims, is chillingly absent of anything resembling compassion. In his mind, the act of killing is “paid content.” And his victims are doing the paying. 

Katayama Shinzo

Born in Osaka in 1981, Katayama Shinzo went to Tokyo after high school graduation to attend a film school founded by director Nakamura Genji. Starting in 2004 he worked as an assistant director, working with Korean director Bong Joon-ho on the 2008 short Tokyo! and the 2009 feature Mother. His 2018 feature debut Siblings of the Cape and his 2021 thriller Missing are both based on true incidents. Katayama also directed the six-episode crime drama The Hovering Blade for the Wowow entertainment channel. 


2018 – Siblings of the Cape 
2021 – Missing
Mark Schilling
Film director: KATAYAMA Shinzo
Year: 2021
Running time: 124'
Country: Japan
28/04 - 9:55 PM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
28-04-2022 21:55 28-04-2022 23:58Europe/Rome Missing Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine cec@cecudine.org