New Japanese courtroom thriller asks important questions about the modern judicial system

Other | Friday 2nd March 2018 | David

Though Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda has earned a worldwide following thanks to his meditative and meticulous family dramas like After the Storm and Our Little Sister, the acclaimed writer-director’s latest film sees him delivering a tense and enigmatic courtroom thriller that sheds light on the amoral practices of the Japanese legal system.

The Third Murder, which hits cinemas later this month, stars Kōji Yakusho of Babel and 13 Assassins fame as a leading attorney charged with defending a client who faces the death penalty for murder. It's a seemingly open-and-shut case in which the client has already served jail time for murder 30 years prior. But as Yakusho assesses the evidence that will send a man to his death, the lawyer begins to have doubts about whether his client really is guilty as charged.


Kore-eda told last September that he was inspired to write the film after learning from a lawyer friend about the ethically dubious reality of the courtroom, where pursuing the truth is less important to than “mak[ing] adjustments to the conflict [of] interest’. In The Third Murder, Kore-eda speculates, "what would happen if a lawyer really started wanting to know the truth?"

Coming courtesy of Arrow Films, the new feature promises to be an engrossing picture with challenging universal insights about the nature of the judicial system.

The Third Murder directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda is released in UK cinemas 23rd March.