The winner of The Best Screenplay of the 76th Cannes Film Festival, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s latest film Monster is showing at the Leeds International Film Festival 2023.

★★★★☆ 4/5

Accompanied by the exquisitely structured scripts, Hirokazu carries on telling profound, soul-touching stories debating the goodness of humanity under the wrongness we commit. The film was the last scoring film of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Farewell, Ryuichi Sakamoto.

When a single mom realised that her son, Miato, may be physically and mentally bullied by his teacher, Mr Hori, she came to visit the school office and ask for an explanation. But all the people she meets are like numb AI machines making meaningless apologies to her.

While for the others, Hori is a passionate, kind teacher who loves his job. Hori continued to work in the school until the mom discovered that he was still her son’s teacher another day. She confronted Hori, who later busted out his anger and claimed that he had never bullied his son but his son had been bullying another boy, Yori. The mother didn’t believe that but still visited Yori. She then found out there were terrible scars on Yori’s arms. The shape of the scars reminds the mom of something her son had hidden in his bag.

The suspected violence of Hori spread fast on social media. The principal, who makes you question her humanity, requested Hori to apologise publicly. Hori determined his innocence, while the truth concerned her the least. Protecting the reputation of the school was her priority. Hori heard the rumour that the principal could have accidentally killed her grandsons, and he was now more convinced due to her bloodless behaviours.

Continued its search for school violence, the film then seeks the facts through the perceptions of each character. Starting from the perceptions of the adults, we saw a brutal story about school violence. But from the perceptions of two children, we noticed a story about how two timid, angel-like young boys protect their fragile love. However, fascinatingly, the story was written and filmed as a gripping crime story. Not until you have already realised the facts, will the real aim of the story be disclosed.

When the jigsaw pieces are explained through different viewpoints, the truths and the lies, understandings and misunderstandings, hate and love are no longer enemies contrasted against each other but the same object reflecting on different mirrors. You will eventually realise that it is not a story about who the monster is but a story denying it.

Hirokazu’s films are always a cure. Monster, too, along with Hirokazu’s other films, is a benevolent, tender-hearted film that presents a bitter drama about the people who committed wrongness, while, eventually, dissecting the monsters to find the good, angel side inside our hearts.


A mother demands answers from teacher when her son begins acting strangely.

Director: Kore-eda Hirokazu
Writer: Yûji Sakamoto
Stars: Sakura Ando, Eita Nagayama, Soya Kurokawa