Plot explanations that are unconvincing and characters who react in culturally specific ways muddy the waters in “Lakeside Murder Case,” a talky Japanese thriller with ripples of Agatha Christie. While Japanese auds may find becoming an accessory to murder to protect your step-daughter’s education an intriguing dilemma, Westerners likely will feel that premise sinks the story’s plausibility. From a bestselling novel, pic should receive respectable local B.O., but it won’t float in other territories, which will prevent helmer Shinji Aoyama from receiving the fest rewards he got in 2000 for “Eureka.”
Photographer Namiki (Koji Yakusho of “Shall We Dance”) tells his inquisitive mistress/assistant that, because he loves his step-daughter, he plans to pose as happily married to his ex to help the girl get into an influential school. Later, the mistress is found dead at the school and the ex-wife unexpectedly confesses to Namiki, the school principal and other parents, who all want to keep the police from finding out. Namiki agrees to help dispose of the body to save the school from shame which would harm all the children, before a final plot twist. Yakusho delivers yet another credible performance. Other thesps are solid and tech credits are excellent.