Run time: 127 mins

Master filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s haunting and exemplary tale about innocence and influence.

In a coastal city suburb, Saori (Sakura Ando), a spirited young widow, lives with with her mischievous preteen son, Minato. As she observes Minato’s increasingly erratic behaviour, she grows concerned. Suspecting an issue at school, she seeks answers from his teacher, Mr. Hori, who apologises for a previous unkind remark. However, Saori’s worries persist as the school brushes off her concerns with vague responses. Determined to uncover the truth, she turns to Minato’s classmate, Yori, who’s also hiding something. It will take empathy to find the truth, and so Saori begins to study events through both Hori’s and Minato’s young eyes.

Opening with an earthy, naturally comical tone, Kore-eda adds a layer of mystery that grows increasingly dark. With a fiercely inventive script by Yuji Sakamoto, he builds the tension adeptly to intensely involve the audience. As the narrative circles, repeats and shifts its gaze from character to character, a delightful cast adds texture while a delicate score helps to strengthen their powerful emotional connection. It’s a staggeringly beautiful film and a fascinating exploration of the dangers of being driven by the fear of speaking the truth