Monday, February 18, 2013
After a four-year hiatus, Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns with this five-part, made-for-television psychological drama/murder mystery that tests viewer endurance, and truly rewards it. Penance tells the stories of four women who have been shaped by a burden of guilt from 15 years ago, when they witnessed the abduction of a classmate who was later murdered. In the first four chapters, the carefully ordered and widely contrasting lives of the women are disturbed by a crisis that involves each one committing an act of aggression on a male victim. The film’s final segment focuses on the dead girl’s mother, who has turned up like a ghost from the past in all of the preceding sections, still searching for closure—and for the identity of her daughter’s killer. Filmed in the familiar placid-but-uneasy Kurosawa style, Penance marks a return to his roots.