Based on an Edogawa Rampo novel, Inju isn’t at all like Blind Beast – maybe one of the best-known film based on Rampo’s work where passion brings pain. And at least director Barbet Schroeder understood one thing about Rampo: Inju is a painful experience… just not in the good way.
Alex Fayard is an arrogant french crime writer and a specialist of Shundei Oe’s work – a famous, strange and mysterious japanese novelist. When Fayard goes to Japan to promote his latest book, he enters into Oe’s world…
From the very beginning, Inju looks cheap with overacting actors… Then you realize, the opening is just a movie inside the movie, a subtle way to show that “fiction meets reality”. Too bad because reality is as bad as fiction: there’s still overacting actors, starting with Magimel.
Most of the story is set in Japan, but it’s more a cliché than anything else. There are Geishas (one girl speaks french!), Yakuzas (they’re very mean but they speak english), the devoted japanese friend who explains everything to the audience (“you’re a gaijin”), a traditional ceremony (with masks!) and of course, a sado-masochistic scene. Honor is safe! Houra!
But the biggest problem is the story. Because there’s absolutly no surprise, as Schroeder explained everything right during the opening: the fiction meets reality. Meaning, Fayard becomes just a novel character manipulated by the famous author, Shundei Oe (which is shown as a deformed man). In fact, Fayard tries to find who is Oe without noticing that he’s being manipulated.
It’s like Schroeder is telling a story without noticing he’s giving away every clue. That’d explain the final 5 minutes where a character is telling you all you already knew. Yes, because you know who is Shundei Oei one hour before the end. It ruins everything. And passion or emotion can’t exist, they’re not taken seriously. Everything that could make them exist isn’t used (the police, the death of a character…).
What was Schroeder thinking? A cliché Japan, a bad thriller, actors who don’t seem to believe what they’re doing… Inju The Beast in the Shadow is a total mess. The beauty of Lika Minamoto isn’t enough.