I Am Ichihashi: Journal of a Murderer
Director: Dean Fujioka
Starring: Dean Fujioka
Based on the memoir “Until I Was Arrested” by Tatsuya Ichihashi, this film chronicles the time Ichihashi was on the run; a warrant had been put out for his arrest following his slaying of a British teacher in Japan named Lindsay Hawker. Taking on multiple identities and undergoing multiple plastic surgeries, Ichihashi successfully evaded authorities for over two and a half year despite a nationwide manhunt and huge reward for information to his whereabouts.
Dean Fujioka directs and stars as Ichihashi; a troubled young man who begins to unravel as he seeks to escape prison by living below the radar and as unassuming as possible. Delivering a very intense performance, despite the character’s general solitary state during the film, Fujioka attempts to bring about a visual presentation of Ichihashi’s mental state during his run from the law. Stylistic camera work and quiet moments are seemingly at odds in the film, but it somehow works; they enable both a manic feeling for when Ichihashi is close to being caught as well as visuals for his solitude and monotony of surviving away from people and civilization. Delivering a humanizing look at a troubled young man is one of the most compelling parts of this character study; it’s uncomfortable how voyeuristic the film feels, especially considering the horrible crime he committed.
I am Ichihashi is a well paced and solid thriller about one of most sensational crimes of modern Japan. Fascinating in his direction and portrayal, Fujioka has delivered surprisingly good work considering that this is his directorial debut. While not quite as compelling as the actual court case and accounts of his run, I am Ichihashi is good true crime done well and fascinating in no small measure. Recommended.