In 2018, Hirokazu Kore-eda, awarded the Palme d'Or for "Shoplifters," and recipient of the Jury Prize in 2013 for "Like Father, Like Son," returns for the 7th time in Competition with "Kaibutsu" (Monster), a thriller exploring the ties between a mother, her young son, and his teacher.
Minato (Soya Kurokawa), a young boy, exhibits increasingly concerning behavior both at school and at home. His mother, Saori (Sakura Ando), decides to discuss the matter with the school's educational team. Hori (Eita Nagayama), his teacher, appears to be at the root of all the issues. However, as the mystery unravels, the truth proves to be more complex than anticipated.
While delving into a new aspect of human relationships and their fractures, Hirokazu Kore-eda has also assembled a new team for the making of his sixteenth feature film. He is notably joined by screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto, known for his work on various Japanese series and films like "We Made a Beautiful Bouquet." Only Ryoto Kondo, handling the cinematography, had previously collaborated with the director on "Shoplifters," which won the Palme d'Or in 2018.
"Working with this team for the first time, we were able to create an incredible film that makes me proud," states Kore-eda.
"Monster" also marks Kore-eda's grand return to the Land of the Rising Sun. His previous film, "Under the Starry Sky," presented in Competition last year, had been entirely filmed in South Korea. This homecoming provides an opportunity for a high-profile collaboration with the composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who crafted the film's music. Renowned for his work on soundtracks like "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence," "Gohatto," and "Ichimei," the musician, who passed away in March 2023, was a familiar presence in films competing at Cannes. "Monster" is the last film he worked on.
This film is presented in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2023.
"Kaibutsu" tells the same drama from the perspective of a teacher and then his student.
As the story unfolds, viewers are taken on a compelling journey through the intertwined lives of the teacher and student. The film explores their individual experiences, emotions, and perspectives, shedding light on the complex dynamics between them.
Sakura Andô delivers a captivating performance as Saori, portraying the challenges and struggles she faces in her role as a teacher. Eita Nagayama brings depth to the character of Hori, capturing the complexities of his journey as a student. Soya Kurokawa and Hinata Hiiragi round out the cast, adding layers of depth and authenticity to the narrative as Minato and Eri, respectively.
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, "Kaibutsu" is a powerful blend of drama and thriller genres. With its thought-provoking storyline and exceptional performances, the film dives into the depths of human relationships, exploring themes of identity, redemption, and the transformative power of connection.