White-Collar Crimes

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Nobody
Written and directed by Shundo Ohkawa
A Phaedra release
At the Screening Room
Opens August 20

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A riff on, among other things, wounded masculinity and white-collar facelessness, the Japanese revenge thriller Nobody opens with three ad executives getting into an altercation at a bar with a disconcertingly similar (though more bloodthirsty) trio at the next table. The film plays out as a predictable spiral of retaliatory ugliness, working up a paranoid sweat that eventually evaporates into stylish, if entirely unoriginal, ultraviolence. Timid, chubby Konishi is beaten to a pulp— twice; hair-trigger Nambu vows to track down his colleague's attacker; nominal hero Taki is left to take stock of the bloody fallout (and cope with the advances of a mysterious woman who wanders into his life one rainy night). Throughout, the identity of the bad guys remains a mystery— are they crooked cops? yakuza? sociopaths? the undead?— and their anonymity is the essence of the mindfuck. Shundo Ohkawa's direction is both slick and ham-fisted, overreliant on generic score and camera trickery for suspense and on rigorous color schemes— overbearing metallic blues (night), bleached-out blandness (day)— for mood. The film's most agreeable quality is its playful streak, evident in a slyly mocking brand-name fetish (the initial argument starts when Nambu calls one of the antagonists' Rolex "tacky") and the supernaturally unkillable villain of the finale. Too interminable to be suspenseful, it provides a kind of surreal thrill all the same.

 
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