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River

The tyranny of past over present is taken for a cruise in "River," a Japanese crimer that initially flows with tantalizing twists but eventually runs dry. Former scripter Takayuki Suzui helms with style and intelligence, but shows strain as narrative hits the rocks. Minor fantasy elements may push this into fest slots beyond usual Asian sidebars.

Cast:
With: Yo Oizumi, Ken Yasuda, Takuma Otoo, Chikau Satou.

The tyranny of past over present is taken for a cruise in “River,” a Japanese crimer that initially flows with tantalizing twists but eventually runs dry. Former scripter Takayuki Suzui (“Man-Hole”) helms with style and intelligence, but shows strain as narrative hits the rocks. Minor fantasy elements may push this into fest slots beyond usual Asian sidebars, but ultimately the mix of drama and comedy is disorienting.

Hokkaido cop Sasaki (Yo Oizumi) is haunted by the death of a woman during a hostage incident, while the dead woman’s fiance (Ken Yasuda) seeks revenge on the cop. The cop, fiance and the criminal who caused the woman’s death all show up at a school reunion, where they’re joined by other alumni, including Yokoi (Takuma Otoo). Yokoi proposes a scam on a pharmaceuticals firm which has developed a memory erasing drug. As the caper gets under way, pic cross-cuts between the present day and the school days, but the various threads fail to merge in a meaningful manner. Perfs are engaging, though Chikau Satou steals the show with his jarringly comic role as a ramshackle p.i. Tech credits are good.

River

Japan

Production: An Index Core production. (International sales: Creative Office Cue, Sapporo, Japan.) Produced by Eiichi Aso, Ayumi Suzui. Directed, written by Takayuki Suzui.

Crew: Camera (color), Hideo Fujiwara; editors, Suzui, Toshihiko Kojima; music, Suzui; art director, Yoshio Nakahara. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (New Currents, competing), Oct. 3, 2003. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: With: Yo Oizumi, Ken Yasuda, Takuma Otoo, Chikau Satou.

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