Japan’s Kore-eda angles for second Cannes win with ‘Monster’

May 18, 2023 - 5:12 PM
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The 76th Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film "Kaibutsu" (Monster) in competition - Red Carpet Arrivals – Cannes, France, May 17, 2023. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda, cast members Sakura Ando, Soya Kurokawa, Hinata Hiiragi and Eita Nagayama, and writer Yuji Sakamoto pose. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)

 Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda hopes to repeat his success at the Cannes Film Festival, five years after winning the top prize, with “Monster,” which breaks down the misunderstandings between a single mother and a teacher started by two schoolboys.

“Monster” sees Kore-eda once again team up with actor Sakura Ando, who starred in his 2018 Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters.”

The film is Kore-eda’s second in competition since winning the top prize at Cannes, after his Korean-language entry “Broker” lost out last year to “Triangle of Sadness” by Swedish director and this year’s Cannes jury president Ruben Ostlund.

Only nine directors have won the prize more than once.

Kore-eda also brought Oscar winner Ryuichi Sakamoto on board to compose a soundtrack critics praised as particularly moving. The film is the last that Sakamoto, who died in March 2023 at age 71, worked on.

Ando plays a single mother who complains that her son’s teacher, portrayed by well-known Japanese TV and movie star Eita Nagayama, has been physically harming the boy, triggering a series of incidents – explained out of order and through different perspectives – that reach a climax during a storm.

Kore-eda and his cast took to the red carpet at Cannes on Wednesday night for the premiere of their film, which critics praised for its clever structure and atmospheric setting.

“Viewers will respond to the touching chords of a drama which is about how monsters – the human kind – are often only a matter of perspective,” wrote trade publication Screen Daily.

—Reporting by Miranda Murray; editing by Jonathan Oatis