The Snow White Murder Case ("Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken")
“4/5 stars… the twisty tale serves as a vehicle for meditations on deeper themes” – Mark Schilling, JAPAN TIMES
Beautiful office worker Noriko is found stabbed, her burnt remains left in a national park near the city. One spark to the next, the news spreads across social media like wildfire. Meanwhile, a newly promoted television director named Yuji is procrastinating at work, tweeting about ramen when he really should be editing his news program. An ex-girlfriend calls and already the plot thickens: a colleague of the deceased Noriko, she begins telling Yuji her own version of the events. She suspects a jealous co-worker named Miki of having killed Noriko over a tangled love affair involving their boss... Taking her word for it and encouraged by his social media followers to pursue the soon-to-be nicknamed “Snow White Murder Case,” he realizes this news story might be his big television break. As he sets out to interview other witnesses who knew Miki, hearsay and rumours tailspin into a multitude of diverging accounts. Yuji pieces together conflicting testimonies framing Miki as the killer, and packages the whole thing into a sensationalist news piece for his network to air. And as one is left judging Yuji’s journalistic integrity, the questions linger. Was Noriko cursed? Did Miki really kill her? Is anyone telling the truth at all? Surely, the twisting mystery doesn’t stop there.
Adapted from a novel by Kanae Minato, whose previous bestselling work served as the basis for Tetsuya Nakashima’s unforgettable smash hit CONFESSIONS (2010), THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE picks up the confessional structure of the former film, takes it out of the classroom and catapults it into the realm of social media and television. Playing out like a contemporary and endlessly fragmented retelling of RASHOMON for the digital age, Yoshihiro Nakamura’s latest is a strikingly modern whodunit, imbued with the poignancy and subtly satiric outlook one has come to expect from the versatile director (responsible for such festival favorites as FISH STORY, GOLDEN SLUMBER and A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI). Both a profound societal examination and a fast-paced investigative thriller, Nakamura paints a world where gossip might as well replace a proper trial, and through this, proves as critical of the Japanese media apparatus as he does of a nation addicted to the immediacy of media images. His finger ever on the pulse of contemporary Japanese society, THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE is perhaps Nakamura’s darkest, most powerful film — a murder mystery for the 21st century, truly chilling in its implications.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer