A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect.
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Kurosawa confounds expectations. There is misdirection in terms of the music, and while it follows some of the conventions of noir, it also breaks a lot of the rules. Intriguing overall, while uneven in parts.
I can understand why many would regard this as a masterpiece, due to it's scathing representation of business hierarchy and seamless reappropriation of Hamlet. But I do find it to sometimes be too reliant on exposition rather than a show-don't-tell mentality. As such, it's plot overwhelms the characters and limits them whereas it's best scenes involve Mifune's psychological torment, in line with it's source material.
Nowhere near as good as Kurosawa's other corporate noir High and Low, The Bad Sleep Well boasts some terrific scenes but never quite picks up the pace. It's almost painfully slow in parts, and could have done with an editor. Toshiro Mifune is cast against type, and I'm not sure if it quite works. He's never allowed to cultivate much of a presence. None the less some amazing stuff here, and, hey, it's Kurosawa!
Kurosawa's non-samurai outings seem to get overlooked, this film noir brimming with intrigue and corruption is among his best work, and that's saying a lot. Toshiro Mifune dominates the screen, this time filling a suit and horn-rimmed glasses with his trademark intensity. Watching it in the wake of the corruption that contributed to the Wall Street crash shows this film remains relevant 50 years later.
Fantastic thriller, I like how Kurosawa starts incorporating different genre styles as the movie goes along, because it's clear that it never stays in one track, so the plot keeps throwing you off-guard until you reach that fantastic ending, which by the way wouldn't have been the same without the proper buildup.