Thursday, October 12, 2023

Evil Does Not Exist (2023) NYFF 2023

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi returns with a small story of a town that is about to change thanks to a corporation wanting to build a fancy camping site in their hamlet. The towns folk are just fine, but the corporation wants to do it, despite the fact their half-assed plans are going to result in pollution and destruction of their way of life.

Structured like a short story EVIL DOES NOT EXIST moves at it's own pace and goes through it's own turns. Running almost two hours it solidly fills the hours but it tells a narrative so light and fragile that you would think it would almost be a short - except that it needs the full run time to fully breath and set up it's story.

Certain to not click with some audiences, this is still going to thrill many. Hamaguchi knows this isn't a crowd pleaser and said so in his Q&A at NYFF, but he's okay with that. The reason, I think, that people won't warm to it is the short story like structure. What happens is something that you see in short stories or films but not in features. The ending is atypical for a feature (or novel).  If you can accept that you are good.

I really like Hamaguchi's films. While dealing with similar themes through out his films, more times than not are always different. Running whatever time they need and moving differently each time he is one of the few filmmakers today making films that reflect the story and not his personal style.

This is a small gentle gem of a film and while not as meaty as his other films it is still highly recommended.

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