Black Kiss

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2.0 out of 5 stars Murder Models
Director Tezuka Makato is a guy with a lot of ideas. Too many ideas, as it turns out, and he is unable to weave all of his ideas together into a cohesive film. What you are left with is a rambling mess of storylines, none of which is particularly bad, and almost any of which could have been pulled out and stretched into a decent flick. As it stands “Black Kiss” is a frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying film.

The first part of the film is the best. A sexy murder mystery, it has all the necessary components. The victims and victims-to-be are all beautiful fashion models, and Tezuka makes sure they have plenty of screen time to reel you in. To kick things off a brutal and elegant locked-door murder is served up, which introduces us to the rumpled police detective who will hunt down the killer, and a retired police officer with an interest in the occult to serve as his mentor and advisor. Everything is good so far, but then suddenly derails into a class/buddy film, as two of the models, both half-Japanese, learn to live with each other as roommates even though their social conditions are so different. The punker and the princess motif. Kind of remembering that this is supposed to be a murder mystery, the film then further jumps tracks as the killer is revealed, and suddenly everyone is in long leather jackets and we are on the set of The Matrix. At this point, the finale elicits laughs rather than shivers, because the whole thing is just too bizarre. Wrapped around all of these separate parts is an existential discussion on fate, which lends the film its original name, Synchronicity, but doesn’t fit into anything else going on.

The killer of the film, a serpentine and preternatural figure called Black Kiss, was visually cool, and could have been a film by himself. The two main girls, Kaori Kawamura and Reika Hashimoto, were both incredible, and could have been a film by themselves. In fact, all of the actors, many of them quite famous and veterans of the Japanese film industry, did a great job, and the fault for this failure must lie solely on the shoulders of the director. One wonders if he was able to assemble and misuse such a tremendous cast based on the respect given to his famous father, the “God of Manga” Tezuka Osamu.

The DVD for “Black Kiss” only helps to show what a failure this movie is. There is a collection of deleted scenes, most of which should have been left in and supply lots of “Ah-ha” moments for the convoluted script. Two interviews with the director show the heights of his hubris, as he explains his intentions and outlines the plot of the film and his vision. Clearly, Tezuka wants to be David Fincher or David Lynch, but he just doesn’t have the talent.

And a word of caution to any directors: Any 133 minute film that then requires an additional half-hour of the director explaining what it is you just saw in order for the audience to understand, probably needs to be re-thought and re-edited. In fact, the identity of the killer is revealed in the director’s interview, and not in the movie itself. That just doesn’t work for me.

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