Ken Ogata (left) proclaims Vengeance Is Mine in classic Japanese thriller.
VENGEANCE IS MINE (Shohei Imamura) Rating: NNNNN
If you were trying to reach an art house audience, you could sell Shohei Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine as a key work of Japanese cinema - a searing, unsettling look into the explosive rage at the heart of a closed, strictly regulated society - and no one would argue the point.
If you were reaching out to the mainstream, you could sell it as one of Japan's first modern serial-killer movies, with Ken Ogata delivering a riveting performance as a sociopath on an epic spree of theft, rape and murder. (You'd cut around the dialogue, though; no need to spook the masses with subtitles.)
Or you could just be honest, and sell Vengeance Is Mine as an unqualified triumph of tonal consistency from a director at his peak. That'd be appropriate, too.
Personally, I'd position it as a profound, and profoundly unsettling, work of pure cinema that, like most great movies, is enhanced considerably when seen with a crowd.
Screens Monday (August 11) at Cinematheque Ontario.