"Cure is one of the creepiest and most psychologically intriguing films that I have ever seen."
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Producers: Kato Hiroyuki
Cast: Yakusho Koji, Ujiki Tsuyoshi, Nakagawa Anna, Hagiwara Masato
Running Time: 111 min.
Plot: Set in and around a bleak, decaying Tokyo, a series of murders have been committed by average, ordinary people who claim to have had no control over their horrifying actions. Following the only link - a mysterious stranger who had brief contact with each perpetrator/victim - detective Kenichi Takabe places his own sanity on the line as he tries to end the wave of inexplicable terror.
JESSE'S REVIEW: "Who are you?" That is a question repeated throughout Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 1997 film Cure, but its true meaning does not become clear until the very end. Takabe (Kôji Yakusho) is a detective living in Japan, doing his best that he can on the job and in his home life, where he takes care of his mentally ill wife, played by Anna Nakagawa. A series of murders involving victims with large "X's" carved on their bodies and with the killers not having any clue to why they performed those violent acts forces Takabe to frantically search for the real reason behind everything. We are introduced to Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), an amnesiac (or so it seems) who forces others to kill someone close to them by simply putting murderous suggestions into their head. Once again, things may not be exactly what they appear to be. Mamya is discovered by a police officer after jumping from the roof of a building, and he and Takabe eventually meet up and what follows is an intense battle of wills that takes a few (actually, many) unexpected turns. To go into any more plot detail wouldn't be fair to those who are reading this and have yet to see the movie.
Cure starts out as an average serial killer genre flick, but midway changes into a film about our society as a whole and what it really means to know one's self. Kurosawa masterfully builds up the increasing tension in the film with his long scenes involving dialogue between the characters that at first appear to be nothing more than your typical conversations, but in reality are anything but. Both Kôji Yakusho and Masato Hagiwara deliver excellent performances as the so-called "cat and mouse" of the movie, who, without spoiling anything, may actually both be cats themselves. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Though we hardly get a glimpse at the murders being performed in the film, the aftermaths are fairly gruesome and might turn a few heads (or stomachs) of those viewing the film. There are a few key factors that make this film worth watching: the superb acting by all involved (especially the leads), the dark and brooding atmosphere which is basically a character of its own (thanks to the brilliant direction by Kiyoshi Kurosawa), and the film's deep rooted themes that are pretty mind-blowing to say the least. Actually, the film's real message may not be anything truly "out there", but the way that it slowly creeps up on the audience and the main character certainly makes the point of realization that much more amazing.
Cure is a movie that you will probably either hate or love. What might seem like pretentious psychological babble to one person may be very enlightening and captivating to another. Cure is one of the creepiest and most psychologically intriguing films that I have ever seen. I highly recommend it.