Who is the real monster when the truth comes out?

Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s “Monster” marks the director’s return to films set in Japan for the first time since winning the Palme d’Or for 2018 film “Shoplifters.” Kore-eda went on to helm “The Truth” and “Broker,” set in France and South Korea, respectively. “Monster” is also the first film Kore-eda has directed from another script since 1995’s “Maboroshi.” The “Monster” screenplay, written by Yuji Sakamoto, went on to win the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes 2023.

The official synopsis reads: When her young son Minato (Soya Kurokawa) starts to behave strangely, his mother (Sakura Ando) feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher (Eita Nagayama) is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds though the eyes of the mother, teacher, and child, the truth gradually emerges.

“Monster” also stars Hiiragi Hinata and Tanaka Yuko.

Kore-eda told The Hollywood Reporter that the vision for “Monster” set in Japan was a “clear” choice.

“Coming back to Japan to shoot this film, everything felt so clear to me. There was no doubt on my part during the entire filming,” he said. “I don’t know whether that came from having worked on foreign productions or from the freedom of directing someone else’s screenplay, but even compared to all of my previous experiences of shooting in Japan, everything felt so much clearer. I had a strong sense of conviction. But again, I don’t really know why that was.”

IndieWire critic David Ehrlich likened the melodrama’s plot to a Christopher Nolan film, saying the feature “invites the audience’s worst assumptions of its characters so that it can show us our blind spots when the story eventually circles back to fill in the blanks.”

Ehrlich wrote in the review, “That truth is hinted at throughout, but its final confirmation is powerful enough to recategorize the entire movie around it as it finds Kore-eda pushing himself even deeper into territory he’s never really explored before.”

Kawamura Genki and Yamada Kenji produce the film, featuring music composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Well Go USA is the North American distributor after a Cannes acquisition. The deal was negotiated by Goodfellas and CAA Media Finance.

“Monster” premieres November 22 in New York City and opens in Los Angeles December 1, as well as in additional markets throughout December. Check out the trailer and poster below.

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