|Directed by||Kiyoshi Kurosawa|
|Produced by||Junyuki Shimoba|
|Written by||Kiyoshi Kurosawa|
|Edited by||Kan Suzuki|
Cure (キュア Kyua) is a 1997 Japanese film written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, starring Kōji Yakusho, Masato Hagiwara, Tsuyoshi Ujiki and Anna Nakagawa. The film was released to strong critical acclaim in Japan and internationally, with critics praising Kurosawa's direction as well as the visuals and atmosphere. In 2012, South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho listed the film as one of the greatest films of all time.
Kenichi Takabe (Kōji Yakusho) is an emotionally repressed police detective with a mentally unstable wife. Takabe investigates a series of bizarre murders in which each victim is killed in the same way, with a large "X" carved into their neck, but the perpetrator is different each time. In every case the murderers are caught close to the scene of the crime, and although they readily confess to committing the crimes, they never have a substantial motive and cannot explain what drove them to kill.
Takabe, together with a psychologist named Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), eventually determines that one man is the common thread among the murders, as each person he comes in contact with commits a killing shortly thereafter. The man, called Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), appears to have extreme short-term memory loss; he seems constantly confused about what day it is, where he is, and what his name is. He claims to recall nothing of his past. Mamiya constantly counters Takabe's interrogation with evasive questions regarding Takabe's identity. This drives Takabe nearly insane as he gradually loses his initial calmness. The futility of the case starts to affect his psyche as he becomes more and more volatile, exploding into violent fits of anger.
Takabe discovers that Mamiya used to be a student of psychology who researched mesmerism and hypnosis. He comes to realize that Mamiya has no memory problems, and is instead a master of hypnosis, capable of planting criminal suggestions in strangers' minds by exposing them to repetitive sounds, the motion of water, or the flame of a lighter.
In an archive, Sakuma finds a videotape of a mysterious man, speculated to be the originator of Japanese mesmerism, and shows it to Takabe. The man is depicted hypnotizing a woman in the late 1800s. She had been under treatment for hysteria and was hyponotized by the man who gestured an "X" midair. The woman later killed her son in a namer similar to Mamiya's crimes. Sakuma believes the current crimes have a connection to the earlier events, describing Mamiya as a missionary of ceremonial murders. After showing the tape, Sakuma is revealed to have unconsciously drawn an X on his wall, and starts to experience hallucinations of Takabe menacingly cornering him. Several days later, the police discover Sakuma's body in his home, and conclude that he committed suicide. Meanwhile, Mamiya is jailed and charged with incitement to murder.
Mamiya finds Takabe fascinating, possibly because he cannot force Takabe to kill. Takabe is tormented by visions of his wife (Anna Nakagawa) dead, however, and the more he studies Mamiya, the more he feels that he might be losing his mind. The detective grows frustrated with his wife's helplessness and even expresses murderous intent towards her at one point. His wife's strange behavior and concerns about his own mental stability lead him to have her committed to a mental hospital.
When Mamiya escapes, killing a policeman and a doctor in the process, Takabe tracks him to a deserted building in the wilderness and shoots him. Exploring the building, Takabe finds and listens to an old phonograph cylinder that contains a scratchy recording of a male voice repeating what seem to be cryptic hypnotic instructions.
The film ends ambiguously at a restaurant where a waitress serves Takabe then suddenly draws out a knife, seemingly ready to kill her supervisor after speaking to the detective -- suggesting that the bizarre ceremonial crimes are being carried out inadvertently by Takabe himself after having been hypnotized by the cylinder recording created a century earlier.
- Kōji Yakusho - Takabe
- Masato Hagiwara - Mamiya
- Tsuyoshi Ujiki - Sakuma
- Anna Nakagawa - Takabe's wife
- Yoriko Dōguchi - Dr. Akiko Miyajima
- Yukijirō Hotaru - Ichiro Kuwano
- Denden - Oida
- Ren Osugi - Fujiwara
- Masahiro Toda - Tōru Hanaoka
Cure was released in 1997. It was later screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1999 as part of career retrospective on Kurosawa. It received a wider release in the West in 2001.
As of March 2019, Cure has a 93% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus of 50 critical reviews being: "Mesmerizing and psychologically intriguing." Tom Mes of Midnight Eye described the film as "a horror film in the purest sense of the word". Meanwhile, A. O. Scott of The New York Times noted that Kiyoshi Kurosawa "turns the thriller into a vehicle for gloomy social criticism." Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club said: "Kurosawa, a prolific genre stylist who specializes in low-key thrillers and horror films, undercuts the lurid material by keeping a chilly, almost clinical distance from the events and unfolding the story in elliptical pieces."
- Joon-ho, Bong (2012). "Bong Joon-ho - BFI - British Film Institute". Sight & Sound.
- Murguia 2016, p. 40.
- Crow, Jonathan. "Cure (1997)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Clark, Jason. "Cure (1997)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Cure, RottenTomatoes.com, accessed 12 March 2019
- Mes, Tom (March 20, 2001). "Midnight Eye review: Cure". Midnight Eye.
- Scott, A. O. (August 3, 2001). "Film in Review; 'Cure'". The New York Times.
- Tobias, Scott (March 29, 2002). "Cure". The A.V. Club.