Victoria Linchong 647 East 11th Street, #2 New York, NY 10009 (917) 941-7926 vlinchong@earthlink.

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A REVIEW OF THE BAD SLEEP WELL By Victoria Linchong

A 1960 gem that deserves to be better known, THE BAD SLEEP WELL is often called Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Hamlet, but can be more easily compared to The Count of Monte Cristo. Like Hamlet, Koichi Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) is tormented by his father’s suspicious death, but like Edmond Dantes, he concocts a systematic plan to avenge his father only to be undermined by inadvertently falling in love with an intended instrument of his revenge. The film not only is a relevant sociopolitical commentary that tackles corporate corruption, it also explores the uneasy double-edged ramifications of vengeance in a far deeper and more complex way than recent films like Old Boy and V for Vengeance, which similarly delve into Monte Cristo-like terrain. At the outset of the film, Nishi seems like a man on the rise, becoming both the son-inlaw and the right-hand man of Tatsuo Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori), the VP of a Halliburton-like firm called the Public Corporation for Land Trust. But as we learn from the gaggle of reporters that descend on Nishi’s wedding with the sweet crippled Yoshiko (Kyôko Kagawa), all is not right in Public Corporation-land. A kickback scheme with Dairyu Construction is about to explode into a nationwide scandal and the executives of the Public have resorted to murderous means to cover the whole thing up. As it turns out, Nishi is really the illegitimate son of their first casualty, an officer of Dairyu Construction who was goaded into suicide five years previously. Using his father’s hush money and exchanging identities with his best friend (Takeshi Katô), Nishi

infiltrates the company and then proceeds to wreak havoc by first saving would-be Suicide #2. Kurosawa stalwart Takashi Shimura is a deliciously craven. lonely nighttime scenes lit by only streetlamps. Mifune’s masterfully restrained performance builds in intensity as Nishi’s self-conflict deepens into anguish at the futility of battling an endemically corrupt capitalistic system.a scathing indictment of unchecked corporate power and a despairing lament for the high cost of embracing profit above all. Bespectacled like Clark Kent. but as Nishi’s relationship with his wife Yoshiko deepens. THE BAD SLEEP WELL is perhaps Kurosawa’s darkest film . Nishimura is pitch perfect as the perpetually panicked Shirai and as Administrative Officer Moriyama. the doleful accountant Wada (Kamatari Fujiwara). and a bombed out former munitions factory complete with asymmetrically crumbling concrete beams. With a moody score by Masaru Sato. . Yoshiko’s candor and naïveté ends up being the fatal element in a bitter denouement where love and humanity is ruthlessly trumped by big business. All seems to go according to plan. rubber-lipped toady. and then using the presumably dead Wada to scare the bejesus out of Contract Officer Shirai (Kô Nishimura). THE BAD SLEEP WELL is a visceral noir that is as cold and bleak as the hearts of the corporate executives in the film. Just as you think redemption might be in the air. he finds himself questioning his need for revenge and having second thoughts about destroying the father that she loves.

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