Review: ‘The Matsugane Potshot Affair’

Incest and larceny are among the many manifestations of a severely dysfunctional Japanese family in "The Matsugane Potshot Affair." Apparently based on a true story, high quality production plays at the darker aspects of "Fargo," with none of that film's lightness or humanity.

Incest and larceny are among the many manifestations of a severely dysfunctional Japanese family in “The Matsugane Potshot Affair.” Apparently based on a true story (though titles making the claim may be a dry joke), high quality production plays at the darker aspects of “Fargo,” with none of that film’s lightness or humanity. With the pic reveling in its tenebrous themes while leaving multiple aspects of its story unexplained, its grim absurdity may play well at some fests, but commercial prospects are small.

The distaff side of an inept “Bonnie and Clyde” duo becomes a hit-and-run victim while searching the snowcapped rural town of Matsugane for missing loot. Driver at fault is moronic Hiraki Suzuki (Takashi Yamanaka), fraternal twin of allegedly upstanding Kotaro (Hirofumi Arai), who makes up half of Matsugane’s police force. Both brothers run afoul of the law, but this is small potatoes compared with the vortex of dysfunctional sexuality that is the fulcrum, both emotional and financial, of the Suzuki clan. Yarn revels in its deviance, but its condescending attitude makes it play like a sick, unfunny joke. Helming is solid, and all tech credits are of good quality.

The Matsugane Potshot Affair

Japan

Production

A Bitters End presentation of a Siglo production. (International sales: Bitters End, Tokyo.) Produced by Hiroki Owada, Yuji Sadai, Mitsuru Oshima, Eiji Watanabe. Executive producer, Tetsujiro Yamagami. Directed, by Nobushita Yamashita. Screenplay, Yamashita, Kosuke Mukai, Kumiko Sato.

Crew

Camera (color), Takahiro Tsutai; editor, Ryuji Miyajima; music, Pascals; production designer, Etsuko Aikou. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (competing), Oct. 25, 2006. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Hirofumi Arai, Takashi Yamanaka, Miwa Kawagoe, Yuichi Kimura, Tomokazu Hikata.
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