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SUICIDE CLUB
DVD. Cine du Monde.

Suicide ClubSion Sono is one of Japan’s more interesting directors, responsible for films like Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance. This 2001 production is the movie that first caught the attention of cult movie fans, and ten years on, it still have the power to shock, intrigue and frustrate.

The film opens up with the suicides of 54 schoolgirls, who cheerfully line up at the edge of a subway station platform and then throw themselves in front of the oncoming train. This is just the first of a series of inexplicable suicides, often done en masse, and mostly by schoolkids. The police are baffled, though they are given clues from both an internet forum poster called The Bat and another mysterious caller. The clues point to a strange website where coloured dots appear to correspond to the number of suicides, and also lead to a teenybop group called (depending on the whim of the subtitles) Desert, Dessert or Dessret), who may have hidden, cryptic messages in their songs. Add to this the long strips of human flesh, stitched together from hundreds of different people, that the police find, and a bizarre, murderous glam rock cult who claim responsibility for the suicide cult, and you have a film that poses plenty of questions and fails to answer any of them.

Suicide Club This ambiguity, alongside mysterious figures who are unidentified, plot lines that go nowhere and a series of bizarre scenes that make no sense, will probably alienate a lpt of viewers. I have to admit that, as fascinating and visually startling a film as this is, my initial reaction when the closing credits began to roll was ‘what the fuck..?’. While I don’t need films to spell out every little mystery, I do at least want them to make some sort of sense. Suicide Club seems deliberately designed to be a frustrating experience.

But once you accept that fact, this is a remarkable movie, full of extraordinary moments – scenes of graphic gore and matched by deeply unsettling suicide scenes that are genuinely harrowing. And the sense of disorientation that you experience while watching the film seems strangely appropriate for a mystery that, by its very nature, can never make sense.

I can’t whole-heartedly say that this is a film for everyone – but if you are willing to go with the flow of the fractured narrative, you might well find this to be worth the frustration. Just don’t expect to feel happy at the end of it.

DAVID FLINT

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