Reviewer Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child. Visit his website.
Director Peter Webber
Writer Vera Blasi
Cast Matthew Fox, Colin Moy, Tommy Lee Jones
AGE RATING: PG 13
This isn’t a film for the littlies. It’s not going to give them sleepless night, but they won’t get the plot, and they won’t enjoy the meandering narrative. Rather leave them at home and enjoy a night out with adult company.
Emperor is a good film. It taught me a lot about what post World War II Japan was like, a subject which I knew little about and which has hardly been explored by Hollywood. It has solid performances, an interesting story and a fascinating premise. Yet, despite all these promising ingredients it failed to move me.
The movie tells the true story of General Bonner Fellers’ mission to decide the Emperor of Japan’s guilt or innocence in the perpetration of war crimes during World War II. What follows is a journey through the quagmire of honour, politics and shame that permeates both Japan and the devastated psyche of Gen Fellers himself.
The film is permeated with wonderful performances. Tommy Lee Jones delivers a delightful portrait of General Douglas MacArthur, and there are a number of delicate and nuanced cameos from the Japanese cast. Specifically noteworthy are Toshiyuki Nishida as Japanese General Kajima and Takatarô Kataoka as Emperor Hirohito. Mathew Fox takes the leads as General Fellers and delivers his usual intense and introspective performance. What worked well in the fairly shallow, short-form TV series Lost, struggles to sustain itself in the more in-depth long-form medium of film. His performance is good, but after a while seems a bit unrelentingly intense.
The film is well, if a bit oddly, directed. It progresses at a quite slow and steady pace, which I like, but which is quite unusual for a Hollywood movie. The pacing and rhythm of the piece definitely positions it as an art house film rather than a mainstream one. It give the film a rather bleak and morbid feel, which is very appropriate, and which is used to very good effect.
This is a good film. It’s a bit obscure at times and it’s definitely not for you if you only like high-paced action film, but it’s a good, interesting film.