High and Low

High and Low ★★★★½

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Finally saw this one. What a film! An excellent, subtle noir thriller and an amazing exploration of contemporary Japanese culture, which asks a very powerful question: would you give up a life's worth of hard-work and your position for the life of a kidnapped child and your humanity? High and Low is so well crafted, full of striking imagery and so thematically complex that only a master like Kurosawa could make something like it. It is fascinating from start to finish and is full of outstanding performances. Toshiro Mifune is, once again, phenomenal as Gondo. Seriously, does he ever give a bad performance? He flawlessly plays the fine line between frustration and sympathy as he makes the decision of his life, and you truly feel for his character. Tatsuya Nakadai also gives a great performance as the determined Chief Detective Tokuro. High and Low works ingeniously as a film with essentially three different structures. All three structures are superbly filmed, gripping, suspenseful, unpredictable, and amazing to watch thanks to Kurosawa's impeccable direction. The use of composition in this film to convey the central themes and the message of the film is masterful. It is a lesson in filmmaking itself. I was riveted throughout and in admiration of its perfect cinematography, editing and screenplay. That incredible ending with not only elevated the film and resonated with me, but it made me realise how many layers of brilliance the film actually has. When films make you feel that way, you know they are something special. High and Low is easily one of Akira Kurosawa's best films.

5/5

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