Tone and atmosphere mirror subject to perfection in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hypnotic trip into the lower depths of the human mind, “Cure. ” Combining a bleak austerity familiar from many recent Japanese alienation pics with elements of more mainstream serial-killer psycho-thrillers like “Seven,” this unsettling brew is slightly diluted by its unsatisfying ending. But the chilling drama, which stars Koji Yakusho of “Shall We Dance?” and “The Eel,” nonetheless should find takers on the fest circuit.Tokyo detective Takabe (Yakusho) is assigned to investigate a bizarre,
fast-multiplying series of murders in which the victims are found with a large X carved into their chests. Their killers are apprehended nearby in a trancelike state, with no memory of the crime. Takabe enlists help from psychologist Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), who fails to establish a link between the murderers. When
Takabe’s frustration at being unable to crack the case and his anxiety over the mental instability of his ailing wife (Anna Nakagawa) begin to threaten his own grasp of reality, Sakuma warns him not to get in too deep. Police make headway when they establish ties between an unbalanced young psychiatry student, Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), and one of the killers. They soon conclude that Mamiya, who did extensive study on the power of hypnotic suggestion prior to losing his grip, has been planting the idea of the killings in his subjects’ minds. But Takabe’s attempts to interrogate him and make the charges stick are thwarted by the suspect, who uses his awareness of the cop’s personal problems to play increasingly dangerous mind-games.Writer-director Kurosawa clearly is less concerned with standard crime-solving procedures and tidy explanations than he is with portraying insanity as a product of modern chaos. As such, the
resolution of the dark, broodingly performed psychodrama lacks impact. But the film remains a mesmerizing twist on a familiar genre.Aside from being occasionally underlit, the modest production is technically smooth. An eerie feel is supplied by the constant underlaying of electronic drones, ambient
noise, wind and water on the soundtrack, which is almost entirely without conventional music.