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(Yôgisha X no kenshin) (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of
"Suspect X"
(Courtesy of Encore Films)

In Japanese with English & Chinese Subtitles
Hiroshi Nishitani
Cast: Kou Shibasaki, Masaharu Fukuyama, Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Shin'ichi Tsutsumi
RunTime: 2 hrs 9 mins
Released By: Encore Films & GV
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/suspectx

Opening Day: 26 February 2009


A male body is discovered. He is strangled to death where his face pulverized beyond recognition and fingers burned to a crisp. Kaoru Utsumi (played by Kou Shibasaki) is assigned to the case. The police face great difficulty in cracking the case. Thus, she seeks advice from brilliant physicist Manabu Yukawa (played by Masaharu Fukuyama), aka Detective Galileo.

After analyzing the case, Yukawa suspects that the true genius behind everything is Tetsuya Ishigami (played by Shinichi Tsutsumi), the neighbor of victim's ex-wife. Ishigami happens to be Yukawa's college friend whom he regards as a true mathematics genius.

Elaborate bluffs, false testimonials, loopholes in logic - all begin to appear in Detective Galileo's way as if intentionally placed as a challenge by someone with mathematical brilliance.

Movie Review:

In mathematic equation questions, one is often required to solve x or when the answer for x is given, one would be required to explain the steps in solving the equation. Most murder mysteries are played out in the manner that the viewers follow the detective in solving the crime, much like solving the answer to the mysterious x. Suspect X on the other hand presents both the equation question and the answer upfront and takes the time in divulging the process that happens in between.

While Suspect X is not constructed in the straight forward “solve x” style of murder mystery tale and does no give the viewers the satisfaction of guessing who is the guilty one, Suspect X delights in it’s own philosophical explanation of a simple murder made complicated. Equally engaging, it even added a unique perspective on love into the murder mystery.

The strength of Suspect X lies in the intellectual one-upmanship between the genius Mathematician Tetsuya Ishigami and the brilliant Physicist, Manabu Yukawa while unrevealing the “why” and “how” of the murder. At one point of the climatic revelation, it felt that the crime was committed in overly unnecessary complicated manner, kind of like someone had just run one big round for doing something that could have been done at the starting point in the first place. But then with one simple explanation and it resonate the rational in the excessive method in killing.

In a way, the answer was so simple and yet when one approaches the question with a certain viewpoint; it would be hard to figure it out. The beauty of this movie was the showcase of how some seemly unsolvable questions need to be looked at from a different non conventional perspective.

Beside the crime solving bits, this movie also attempted to presents an equation on love. As presented in the trailer and in early part of this movie, the subtle questioning of whether the mystery of love could be solved became a recurring theme of this movie. It’s the underlying motif of this movie that like many other clues in this movie which are hidden in plain sight that are waiting for viewers to pick them up. That would mean that the concept of love is not hammered out like movies such as “Twilight” and it would require the audience to have the patience and ability to pick up the fundamental meanings of unconventional love on their own. For those who are able to read between the lines, they would be able to see a touching presentation of unrequited and altruistic love.

In closing, Suspect X is not a perfect film but it is pretty much close to it. There are some easily overlooked loopholes, a little slow in pacing and some concepts about love which are subtly delivered that might not be some teenagers’ choice of chill out movies, especially when they just had their Math / Physic class a few hours ago. They might also lack the ability to understand certain adult ways of loving someone and the trivial things that could make one fall in love. Otherwise it’s a lovely blend of murder mystery and the mysteries of love with a quietly affecting performance by the cast. It also induces one to check out the TV series that this movie is based upon.

Highly recommended.

Movie Rating:

(A solid scientific and mathematic look at love and murder mystery)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


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. Sinking of Japan (2006)

. Bayside Shakedown 2 (2003)

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