Kotoko – EIFF 2012

Kotoko, Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 2011

That Kotoko (J-Pop star, Cocco) sees doppelgängers is the least of her problems. These doppelgängers have tendency to attack her viciously, and she is unsure who is real when attempting to defend herself. Kotoko with her newly born son Daijiro, tries to lead a normal life constantly moving around to avoid further confrontation. Her ever growing parental anxieties coupling with the existing mental issues, child care services finally gets involved and takes Daijiro away temporarily.

She is devastated and desperate to have her son back in her life. At this point a writer Seitaro Tanaka (Shinya Tsukamoto) enters her life against her will. She is guarded and does everything to keep him away as long as she can. But he is unconditionally and mysteriously drawn to her.

With her violent outbursts, it is easy to see why she wants to be as away from everyone as possible. All she wants to create a safe haven for herself and her son. We are left most of the time not sure what is real what has imagined in Kotoko’s mind. She tests her own reality by self-mutilation, cutting herself to see if she is still alive. But she has no intention of dying. Between this horror,  there is also some dark humour, one of the self-mutilation attacks manages to break the tension most unexpectedly.

Crash zooms, shaky cam work pull us perfectly inside the Kotoko’s disturbing mind. We become a passenger involuntarily inside her mind while she is terrified and desperate. Never explained whether she was born or became this way later on, perhaps not relevant.

Some of the ideas to Kotoko’s plot – according to Tsukamoto’s own words – came from the various conversations he had with singer Cocco and her own experiences. Despite this vulnerability Cocco’s first proper acting debut is stunning. Soundtrack also helps adding even more intensity throughout, so as the colour themes in different locations reflecting Kotoko’s ever changing mood.

This film is violent and bloody, not to mention intense, something we are come to expect from Shinya Tsukamoto’s earlier works such as Tetsuo. But this shouldn’t put you off as while this film is a terrifying journey into Kotoko’s madness it is brilliantly executed. All credits to Tsukamoto and Cocco, this disturbing and tragic story is one which you may never be able to forget.


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