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VENICE 2008 Competition / France

Schroeder’s untamed Beast


The line between fiction and reality is not so much blurred as it is erased in Barbet Schroeder’s Venice Competition title Inju – The Beast in the Shadow [+see also:
film profile

The SBS and La fabrique de films production tells the story of a popular French crime writer (Benoît Magimel), who visits Japan for a promotional tour of his latest book. He hopes to come into contact with mysterious Japanese crime novelist Shundei Oe, who sells books by the boatload but who has never actually been seen. A beautiful geisha (model-turned-actress Lika Minamoto) seems to be the point of contact.

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The film is based on a Japanese novel by Edogawa Rampo that director Raul Ruiz first suggested to Schroeder, and finally become a very loose adaptation of that work, though the perverse sexuality that Rampo is known for is also present in the film.

“I admit that Japanese sexuality fascinates me,” says Schroeder, “it’s completely free from any sense of guilt or moral implication.”

Right from the start, the film plays with expectations and boundaries. The first ten minutes are in fact a film-within-a-film that is a riff on Japanese genre films, and which Schroeder uses to explain the popularity of Oe. The world of the geishas and of crime fiction blend to become another largely fictional world.

From its camera set-ups to its orchestral score, the entire film is infused with references and genre conventions from both the Japanese genre and film noir books.

The film will be released in France through UGC on September 3.

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