Evil Does Not Exist (2024)

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Urban ambitions clash with nature in a quiet village close to Tokyo.

Cambridge Film Festival 2023: Film #5

No time to write a longer review, but just to add to the buzz around this fim that somehow Ryusuke Hamaguchi manages to use all the clichés of the ecological drama (the evil corporation with cartoonishly callous boss, the underlings torn about their moral implications about their work, the locals who have a quasi-mystical relationship with their land, and so on), yet turns it into an extremely moving and almost transcendental movie that doesn't feel stock at all. It really earns those stock "slow pan looking at the trees" long tracking shots that you'll see pasted into countless other films as well. And, damn, Hamaguchi even gets in a stunningly literal "chop wood, carry water" visual reference without it feeling hackneyed at all.


Watching the film brings to mind the evolution of the career of Paul Thomas Anderson, who went from crafting messy humanist spectacles to austere, immaculate chamber pieces that appear to exist in perpetual anxiety over being digested on conventional emotional terms. […] [Many] scenes are hypnotic, especially the wood-chopping, which, with its sense of inchoate violence, prepares the viewer for something that isn’t apparent until the film’s ending. But the tension resides in the unusual emphases: What does several minutes of Takumi chopping wood tell us that 30 seconds wouldn’t? It’s a difference of biorhythm.

Chuck Bowen (Slant Magazine)