We often hear girls talking about their school teacher for whom they fell in love when they were still adolescents: they talk about how fascinating they were, about how much they would have been happy to spend some time alone with them. Seiji Hasumi could be one of those teachers in the Japan represented in Aku no Kyoten, original title for Takashi Miike’s latest film, Lesson of the Evil (adapted from Yusuke Kishi’s bestseller). Hasumi’s always there ready to listen to everything his students have to say, he looks cool, beautiful and mature, a man who traveled around the world and lived in the States too, he even has those small imperfections that makes him more human. Despite every single positive aspect, Hasumi is clearly sick, a sickness which appears in the shape of two crows from Norse mythology: Hasumi’s driven by an apparently senseless killing spree since he was a young boy unable to understand what’s right and what’s wrong. What do we have to expect from a man who’s having a double life it’s quite easy, everything is hidden behind the director’s name itself.
Takashi Miike’s a director who can’t be defined as a predictable one, his filmography is vast enough to allow us to be surprised, his only peculiarity is the ability to stick to the genre. If the movie requires it, there will be blood. Lesson of the evil is divided into two parts: in the first one we’re introduced to the characters, both teachers and students, in which are present actors like Shota Sametani, Mitsuru Fukikoshi (both famous for Sion Sono’s films), a first slice of movie that lasts too much, an endless waiting for the inevitable explosion; in the second part we finally see someone bleeding, first a few ones, then almost the whole cast is lying dead on the floor. Lesson of the Evil has style in it, according to the directors himself everything has origin in the book, but truth is that the visuals are more fascinating than the story.
The critic to the school society, which has already been protagonist in movies such as Battle Royale and Confessions, travels side by side to what Miike wanted to say about what’s in Kishi’s novel: all the teachers rape boys and girls, they corrupt them in any way they are able to, while the main character Hasumi, clever enough to use other’s disgusting flaws in his favor, prepares to kill everyone in the name of Asgaard. Miike directs as he has always done, he weights tone and theme and decides how to play with the camera thinking about what’s more important in that precise moment underlined in the screenplay. That’s why the shootings look completely different in each separate chunk of the movie; at first he starts with establishing shots colored in blue thanks to the amazing cinematography by Noboyasu Kita, and then, later, when the killing starts, everything becomes red and the shy observer, the camera behind the fiction, gets nearer and excited by Hasumi’s actions.
Lesson of the Evil is not the best movie by Takashi Miike, its length tires the viewer for almost one hour and a half in which nothing happens until Hideaki Ito starts showing his acting skills. He perfectly fits the role thanks to his physique du rôle and the ability to change from bad to good almost instantly without losing the character’s truth. He’s unforgettable while he’s whistling the main song from the Three Penny Opera written and sung by Bertold Brecht himself. Die Moritat von Mackie Messer becomes the soundtrack the viewer’s joy was needing, an audience forced to rely only on what Miike does best: portraying violence. Truth is that Aku no Kyoten, even if it isn’t a memorable movie, is an enjoyable flick which will have every viewer screaming for joy when finally the gun clicks.