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Film / Confessions

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“Even if you might be protected legally, I will never forgive you.”
Yuko Moriguchi

Confessions is a 2010 Japanese thriller/mystery/horror film based on the novel of the same name. It is directed by Tetsuya Nakashima and stars Takako Matsu.

Yuko Moriguchi is a middle school teacher in charge of a class of rowdy students. They drink milk as she talks. After declaring her resignation toward the class, she then reveals her suspicion of two students for murdering her 4-year-old daughter Manami. It also turns out that she has hatched an elaborate revenge plan to punish the murderers, due to juvenile law protecting them from legal prosecution. Therefore, she tainted their milk cartons with HIV infected blood.

The film is rife with controversy. Not intended for the young or squeamish, Confessions shows how delicate life is, the ironies of poetic justice, AIDS, parental problems, and many more. Viewers are cautioned for the copious amount of gore and blood in this work.


It won many film awards, including the Japan Academy Prize, the Blue Ribbon Award, Asian Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards. It is also Japan's official entry for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

This film provides examples of:

  • An Aesop
  • Anyone Can Die: Manami, Naoki's mother, Mizuki, and Shuya's mother.
  • Body in a Breadbox: After Shuya murders her, Mizuki is dismembered and hidden inside a fridge.
  • The Chessmaster: Yuko Moriguchi.
  • Crapsack World: In this film, the classroom is an allegory of it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While reading some of Dr. Sakuramiya's words aloud to the class, two students take their meaning ("take refuge in some other place") as an excuse and leave. Moriguchi simply lets them go:
    "Already, the esteemed teacher's words take effect. What power."
  • Despair Event Horizon: Yuko Moriguchi.
    • Also Shuya by the end.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: AIDS.
  • Dissonant Serenity
  • Downer Ending: In Yuko Moriguchi’s eyes, it is a Bittersweet Ending. Just kidding.
  • Doting Parent: Deconstructed when Naoki’s mother does not want to believe that Naoki murdered Manami. When Naoki's mother finally comes to her senses, she tries to kill Naoki and commit suicide.
  • Driven to Suicide
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Shuya Watanabe
  • Escapism: To rid themselves of their personal horrors, the students often mistreat the murderers.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Shuya and Mizuki have what appears to be a very sweet one, all things considered. Then we find out it meant nothing to Shuya.
  • Freak Out: Naoki has one after thinking he has AIDS. Shuya also has one at the very end when his mother is killed.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When we first see Minami being thrown into the pool, her eyes are very clearly open. This is Five-Second Foreshadowing of the fact that the purse only stunned her, and also foreshadows that Naoki knew full-well that she was still alive when he tossed her in the water.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Yuko Moriguchi wanted to avenge her daughter’s death (after she also lost the man she loved).
    • Naoki Shimomura just wants to show Shuya he is not pathetic, as Shuya was the first person to take notice of him.
    • Shuya Watanabe wants his “achievements” to be seen and appreciated by his mother.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Fun with Acronyms: In romaji, the "motivational" poster sent to Naoki reads K.I.L.L.E.R.
  • Gambit Roulette: Yuko Moriguchi planned most of it even if she may not have researched properly. She knew that even if she succeeded in tainting the milk with HIV blood, it does not give people AIDS. However, the paranoia can lead the students into chaos. The most triumphant example is in the end when she predicted one of the murderers would set up the bomb to destroy the school. It also happens that the guy has an Oedipus complex. She planted the bomb in his mother’s office. The guy phoned and killed his mother unwittingly.
  • Gang of Bullies: The murderers are bullied with a point-ranking system.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Yuko Moriguchi and the two murderers.
  • Gorn
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The film challenges the viewers whether it is right to sympathize with Yuko Moriguchi, the murderers, the murderers’ friends, and the other students.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Subverted. It turns out that Yuko’s daughter didn’t die from electrocution. However she was knocked unconscious and unable to save herself from drowning.
  • Happy Dance: The new teacher likes the students to dance.
  • Humans Are Bastards: One of the film’s main themes.
  • In Medias Res: As each character's viewpoints are given, more info about their pasts and other events that led to the story are expanded upon.
  • In the Blood: Shuya’s mother told him that he would be a genius like her. Shame he's also psychotic.
  • Ironic Echo: "Just kidding."
  • It's Personal: Yuko Moriguchi’s attitudes toward the two murderers.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Jesus Christ, they're monsters! The two students who murder a four-year-old are just the beginning.
  • Lonely Together: Two students start a relationship because the're both bullied by everyone else.
  • Love Martyr: Mizuki Kitahara, for Shuya.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Milk Song. The tune itself falls under Soundtrack Dissonance but then when you listen to the lyrics...
  • Mad Bomber: At the end, Shuya plants a home-made bomb to kill himself and the other students.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Deconstructed. The new teacher actually makes the situation even worse. He is misguided by Yuko.
  • Oedipus Complex: Shuya toward his mother. He takes this so seriously that it’s not even funny.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shuya’s mother left him. Thus, his obsession ensued.
  • Parental Issues: A major theme of the work.
  • Psychological Thriller
  • Psycho Supporter: Mizuki thinks of a teenage girl who famously poisoned her entire family as her "other self".
  • Rewatch Bonus: When 'Lunacy' is first mentioned, you can see Mizuki visibly perk up and listen better. This makes sense with the later reveal that she's quite the fan.
  • Sadist Teacher: Yuko Moriguchi, although only after her daughter dies.
  • Save Our Students: Deconstructed. Yuko’s utter disgust at the students not appreciating life leads her to this revenge plan.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Shuya Watanabe, apparently. Though that’s not really the case.
  • Smug Snake: Shuya may be smart for his age, but he's pretty overconfident in his abilities and accomplishemts and ends up quite thoroughly Out-Gambitted.
  • The Stoic: Yuko Moriguchi, She basically appears with a completely blank expression that just makes it creepier when she details how her child was killed, who killed her child and how she would punish them.
    • Not So Stoic: She laughs when Mizuki tells her that Shuya loves her (Mizuki) and cares for her and after that talk she walks away from Mizuki and promptly breaks down into tears at a lamp post.
  • Teen Genius: Shuya. However he doesn't feel appreciated.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Shuya befriended Naoki before convincing him to help murder someone.
  • Revenge: The premise of the film.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: All of the main characters at some point.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The murderers, especially when one of them knew Manami was actually still alive before tossing her into the swimming pool. Doesn't help that they're practically kids themselves.
    • Yuko Moriguchi, with the specific mention towards the murderers of her child that she does so because the law would protect them despite what they did, simply for their age.