Both fiction and documentary writers are often taught to show instead of tell. Kei Ishikawa does a little of both in Gukou Roku (Traces of Sin) with more emphasis on telling. In this complex, talky murder mystery, various people give their take on how the “perfect family” might have come to be assassinated. For once, the telling method is a brilliant way to show a bloody massacre without a drop of blood or a glint of a knife. All violence is either described verbally or muted visually. It forces the viewer to think. To imagine. To create the scene from a character’s words rather than to rely on gratuitous onscreen carnage.
The unsolved case is the central theme linking every character, but on a deeper level, Gukou Roku isn’t about murder. It explores the psychological damage caused by the friction between Outsiders and Insiders. It tackles abuse of power between the sexes. At a moment in our sociological history where women are hashtagging #metoo about sexual and emotional harassment by men, the film is on point. Men are Continue reading