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Review: Monster (2023)

Like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster revolves around the theme of conflicting perspectives, adopting a triptych structure in order to explore the convoluted events of its deceptively simple plot through the eyes of three distinctly different protagonists: an aloof adolescent boy, his fiercely protective single mother, and a naïve schoolteacher. Each character’s inherently biased point-of-view shapes (and distorts) how they perceive the morally complex dilemma at the heart of the story; consequently, the audience’s sympathies vacillate dramatically as new information is gradually revealed. The director, however, intentionally leaves several significant questions unresolved and open to interpretation; by the time the end credits roll, there are still gaps in the narrative—even outright inconsistencies, contradictions, and discrepancies. Thus, the puzzle remains fundamentally fractured, fragmented, and incomplete.

And that ambiguity elevates and enriches the film. “Truth,” after all, is ultimately subjective—as insubstantial and illusory as the shimmering reflection of raindrops trickling down a windowpane. Monster embraces the uncertainty of life itself—and is all the more sublimely beautiful for it.

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