Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
Starring: Eita, Yosuke Kubozuka, KenKen, Jun Kunimura, Mayuu Kusakari
Ryoichi (Eita) lives alone in a small cabin on a remote snow covered mountain. Living an austere existence, his only contact with the outside world are the explosive packages he sends to politicians and businessmen. Bucking against the system of life in Japan, Ryoichi looks to affect change, while mourning the destruction of his family. When Ryoichi starts seeing a strange figure in the remote wilderness stalking him, he fears that he may be losing his mind, but when his dead brothers (KenKen and Yosuke Kubozuka) show up, he has to deal with the real world and the reason he has chosen this way of life.
Acclaimed director Toshiyuki Toyoda directs this quiet and unique look at the mind of disillusioned youth in Japanese society. Having exploded similar themes in previous work, this film will present a familiar feel to the film Blue Spring, except lonelier and more secluded. Eita is very good as Ryoichi. Spending a lot of time alone, he does a good job with physical reactions, nuanced delivery, and the long takes typical of Toyoda. It is a very simple yet compelling turn and he proves again why he is one of the better young talents out there. Kubozuka, a phenomenal actor, is great as the ‘spectre’ Yuki, Ryoichi’s oldest brother. He demonstrates a casual and amazing ability to turn in extremely emotional and powerful performances. He’s always a welcome addition to any cast and his appearance was a surprise. Supporting roles by bassist KenKen and Mayuu Kusakari are decent and the cameos by Jun Kunimura and Miyuki Matsuda are solid, important turns.
The film has an intimate feel, when inside the well decorated and designed cabins. They are solitary and dark and provide a good back drop for a story of being with your thoughts. The outdoor scenes are breathtaking, with the snow covered fields and mountains providing some great imagery. The music in the film is very good, coming in at appropriate moments and giving the feel of Toyoda’s new wave generation standing. A bit on the short side at 72 minutes, the film is nonetheless packed tightly and may require multiple viewings to fully peel back all the layers.
While I found Monsters Club to be a very compelling and engaging film, it is easy to see that this is not a mainstream film by any stretch. Lacking a straightforward narrative and some ambiguity in its character’s fates, Monsters Club will turn off many viewers inexperienced with Toyoda’s work, but for those looking for a unique, challenging film, you may find Monsters Club one club you’d like to join.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Blue Spring, Murakami novels, Pierce