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Film / The Third Murder

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The Third Murder is a 2017 Japanese legal thriller by Kore-Eda Hirokazu.

Tomoaki Shigemori is a lawyer tasked with defending a client named Misumi, who faces death penalty if found guilty, in a murder trial. Misumi has been previously convicted for a murder and has confessed to the crime, but evidence in the new case leads to Shigemori having doubts about what really happened.


This film features examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: Slightly. Shigemori is quite cynical and seems more interested in efficiency than actually finding the truth, but is not exactly a monster (and he gets better as his interest for the case grows). Foiled by a younger lawyer.
  • Central Theme: Kore-eda decided to make a film about a gap between the Japanese' perception of the court as the space where people aim for the truth and what it actually is: a space for lawyers to make adjustments to conflicts of interest. Plays with the speculation of "what would happen if a lawyer really started wanting to know the truth?"
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  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Played with. At the beginning of the plot, two murders have already happened. No third murder happens, the third murder is death penalty and will happen later.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Shigemori is quite cynical, and for some reason becomes good. His initial cynicism helps the author show how Japanese lawyers think. Then his actual seeking for truth carries the plot.
  • Law Procedural: Kore-Eda's first.
  • Shown Their Work: Being unfamiliar with how lawyers worked in the justice system, the author brought together seven lawyers over several months to stage mock trials and mock interviews of a criminal while he was taking note of their language and thought process.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Zig-zagged. Talking to Misumi is very frustrating, but there is doubt that is is guilty. His lawyer may also feel this, since is own father was the judge who convicted Misumi before.
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