Confessions/Kokuhaku/告白 is a 2010 Japanese film about a single mother who vows to take revenge on two students who killed her daughter. The film is a little slow placed, there are a lot of slow motion scenes and the overall tone (literally) is very dark and miserable, but imo that just adds to Miss Moriguchi's pain along with that of the other characters. My favorite part is that the film is about a lot more than just the teacher, most of the focus is on the students - who are just 13 years old. Despite their young ages, you see their violent and careless sides frequently, to the point where even the non-killers look like they would kill themselves.
ONCE AGAIN, THERE ARE SPOILERS. JUST SO YOU KNOW, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE MOVIES WITH A SLIGHT (DEPENDS ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT) TWIST. HOWEVER, THE FIRST 30 OR SO MINUTES IS NOT SPOILER-Y, IT'S JUST MORIGUCHI EXPLAINING EVERYTHING THAT HAD HAPPENED TO SET UP THE STORY. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND LOOKING AT IT IF YOU'RE EVEN A LITTLE BIT INTERESTED. THE WAY IT'S SET UP IS VERY WELL DONE.
Miss Moriguchi: The teacher/single mother who lost her six year old daughter because two boys in her class murdered her. She sets off to teach them a lesson in human life for the rest of the film.
Watanabe Shuuya: Student A, one of the killers. An absolute genius who just wanted to impress his mother.
Shimomura Naoki/Nao: Student B, unlike Shuuya he is an idiot. All he wanted to do was make some friends.
Kitahara Mitsuki: The class representative, she has a 'secret' (not really, you'll see) side to her as well.
There are also other characters such as Nao's mother, Werther who is the replacement teacher, etc. but they're not as important as these four. Also, there are some scenes that are flashbacks, for reading ease, the dialogue from flashbacks will be in italics. This is also my very first picspam, so I hope it isn't too bad... Now let's start!
Moriguchi: Those who have finished drinking, return your empty cartons to the correct number and sit back down.
Our school has been selected from ten thousand candidates all across the country to promote milk for middle schoolers.
I don't know how effective milk will be on 13 year old bodies and minds. But I'm sure we'll see some changes in the March health checkups. Though I'll be gone by then.
I've had enough, so this will be my last month as a teacher.
Do any of you know a teacher called Masayoshi Sakuramiya?
Student: Yeah! He's the super-teacher that wrote this book, right? He's totally awesome!
Morigutchi: He's truly a passionate teacher who has published books, and has appeared on TV.
Last year he was told he only had a few months left to live. Yet he wasn't discourages, and continued to put his all into classes until the very last.
Frankly, I never completely trusted what any of you told me. (students are angry)
I remember a certain event. A girl wrote to a young male teacher saying she was in love with him; That she'd kill herself if he didn't meet her. He panicked and agreed to meet her at a love motel. The girl waited there, and got a photo of him.
Then she showed it to her parents, who stormed into the school. Ridiculous...
It was just a stupid prank by a girl who was angry for being scolded. The teacher was a fool to trust her.
It's just because students... because all of you... are so good at lying.
Just as whenever the boys in this class asked to meet me, I'd send Mr. Tokura from Class A.
Female Student: I feel that's deeply irresponsible as our teacher.
Moriguchi: I see. I suppose you can look at it that way. Spending your every moment thinking about marrying a Johnny Jr., you can become quite self-absorbed, and completely wrapped up in your own little worlds.
It's easy to forget what it simply means to live.
I'm going to make sure none of you ever use words like "I want to die" so lightly again.
I'm going to give you one final, very important lesson.
As you know, I'm a single mother. I had intended to marry the father of my daughter Manami. We were both teachers, but he was someone I really looked up to. Shortly before we were due to be married, I became pregnant. And he was diagnosed with HIV during a physical examination. (Class gets quiet out over the word 'HIV')
HIV. A virus which destroys the immune system. The virus which causes AIDS.
In the end, I gave birth to my child, but didn't marry. That was the decision I took.
Female Student: Why didn't you marry him?
Moriguchi: Even though the child wasn't infected, her father was. And if that became public knowledge, she'd face discrimination.
Male Student: Who cares what people think!
Moriguchi: The specter of his illness would hang over her even after he had passed. It would only make her suffer. That was his judgment, and I agreed.
Male Student: That's so cruel on the kid!
Moriguchi: It would have been crueler to do otherwise.
Even though he wanted to hold Manami more than anyone, he couldn't. As hard as it was for me, I think it was a hundred times harder for him.
I gave Manami every bit of love I had. When she turned one, I went back to work. Until she was six, she'd wait for me at the local nursery.
And after that, I entrusted her to a Ms. Takenaka I met via a volunteer center. She took care of a dog called Shaggy. Manami really loved that dog so she put her in charge of feeding it.
[... - Moriguchi explains that Ms. Takenaka got ill so she took Manami to stay at her school]
Manami really loved a character called Cotton Bunny. Her bag, her handkerchief, her tissues, her shoes...
Hey, Shimomura, you remember this pouch, right?
Manami: Buy it for me Mommy!
Moriguchi: I already bought this one for you.
Nao: Why don't you just buy her it? It's only a pouch.
Moriguchi: Thinking about it now, you were probably right. Because in the end...
Manami? Manami! Manami!
... it was the last thing Manami ever asked me to do for her.
Manami is gone. I'll never touch her small hands again. My hands will never again be able to feel her tiny cheeks, her soft hair...
Manami's death was probably my fault. I failed as her guardian. But, I wasn't going to let it end like that.
Manami died. But it was no accident. She was killed by students from this class.
(text - Moriguchi's going crazy!)
What is it that protects you? Your parents? Weapons? No, your strongest ally is Juvenile Law.
Under Article 41 of the penal code, those under 14 years of age are not liable for their crimes and cannot be punished for them. Isn't that lovely?
There was a 13 year old girl just the same as you. She mixed all sorts of drugs into her family's food calling it a holy rite, and recorded the results in detail on an internet blog.
Student: The Lunacy Incident?
Moriguchi: That's right, the Lunacy Incident. That was the name she used on her blog, so the press gave it that name and turned it into a big scare story.
In the end, they never found a reason for her to brutally murder her whole family. Because of that, all sorts of foolish rumours began to spring up and she even won admirers her own age.
The only one who received a harsh punishment was the teacher who told her specific details about various medicines. All she had to do was write a few remorseful words in a juvenile detention center and she was pronounced rehabilitated.
Even if you kill someone, you're not going to be punished for it.
(text - Exactly! That's why I did it!)
And there's no way for us to stop these crimes for us to stop child murderers. If you felt like it, you could kill someone with a baseball bat, or a nice long kitchen knife, or a medicine ball from PE, or even with your bare hands. And there'd be nobody to stop you.
Guess even you wanted to find out who the culprits are, huh? I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I have no intention of telling you their names.
Masami's father was Masayoshi Sakuramiya. The reason that we had a special funeral at our house was because he wanted to finally hold Manami before she was gone. The first time Manami was held by her father, her soul had already departed. He confessed to me that his condition had worsened into AIDS. But in the few months of life he had left, I couldn't bring myself to say anything to him. I believe that along with Manami, something important inside me died too.
Last week, I went to visit Ms. Takenaka, who had retired. She gave me a box of Manami's things I had left with her. And this (holds up the pouch she did not buy Manami) was in the box. The pouch I had never bought her, where did it come from?
Ms. Takenaka said she found it near Shaggy's kennel.
I remember it dawning on me that the only punishments children ever have to deal with are a few extra laps or having to clean the pool.
(text - I know who it is!)
Was Manami really alone at the pool that day? There are two students responsible. I'll refer to them as A and B.
A is a straight As student. Looking at him, you wouldn't expect him to have any problems at all. But there are some fairly unsettling rumours you hear from time to time.
I checked out A by calling his junior school teacher, but was told there had been no problems with him at all. Just as I was about to give up on him...
Shuuya/A: What do you teach, teacher?
... A came into my room. (NOTE: this flashback is before Manami is killed)
Shuuya: Lights and stuff?
Moriguchi: If you want to know about that, shouldn't you ask your dad?
Shuuya: There's something good inside. Try opening it!
( slightly electrocutes Moriguchi)
Shuuya: Awesome! Isn't it?
Moriguchi: So I'm a test subject, huh? Are you going to use this to torture animals?
Shuuya: No point in that.
Shuuya: Can't you hear that, teacher? It's the sound of something important to you disappearing.
[We learn that Shuuya actually created an anti-theft wallet that shocks thieves, he wants to enter it into the science fair. Moriguchi is still a little concerned about Shuuya and his invention]
Moriguchi: And in the end, the Anti-Theft Surprise Wallet won first place at the contest.
(text - SHUUYA repeated)
Moriguchi: I asked A about the truth behind Manami's death.
(flashback - Moriguchi shows Shuuya the pouch, Shuuya pretends to be shocked and almost jumps out the window)
Shuuya: Just kidding.
Moriguchi: A told me the truth with a smile. He hardly seemed to care that the woman before him was the mother of the girl he killed.
A's motive was pure naivety; a desire to have the world notice him. But on the day (the science fair) that he got his wish and was published in the newspaper, the world turned their eyes from him to a certain girl of the same age (Lunacy).
Shuuya: Even if you're recognized for doing good stuff, nobody gives a shit. They all just care about that Lunacy freak. An overdose? Hah!
If I wanted to kill someone, I could make everything myself. Just like this.
Moriguchi: I want to kill this little brat. That was the only thought I had in my head.
B had transferred to our school, and joined the PE club, but it was all just athletics and they wouldn't even let him hold a racket.
(writer "DIE" all over the bathroom stall)
He was fed up, but he didn't have the nerve to talk to the teacher. So he got his mom to call in, quit the club, and began attending a cram school.
But his grades didn't get any better. And though he worried, he was too lazy to do anything about it.
He holed up in the police station. He got a shock when the person who came to meet him wasn't me, but Mr. Tokura.
For violating the rule against juniors going to the arcade, B was given a punishment. He was to clean the school rooms and the poolside once a week.
(text - You gotta be kidding me. That little wimp did something so serious?)
I heard this from B himself, at his home.
His mother sat beside him. And every time he said something, her only response was,
Nao's Mother: It's not fair.
At the start of February, A made contact with B to recruit him to aid in a terrible plan.
Shuuya: Who would be good?
Nao: For what? Whoa, is that the thing that won the contest?
Shuuya: I juiced it up a bit, so I want to test it on someone. It doesn't really matter who. Though I did make it to zap bad guys.
Nao: Then I guess we'd better find some creep to test it on too.
Moriguchi: B's first suggestion was Mr. Tokura. A didn't respond, so then B put forward my name.
Nao: I hate that bitch. One of her students is in troublem and she sends another teacher to do her dirty work.
Shuuya: But I've already tested it on her.
Nao: Then how about her daughter? We'd be punishing a teacher for caring more about her daughter than her students.
Shuuya: Your mommy wouldn't buy this for you, right? Or has she given you one already?
Manami: (shakes her head no)
Shuuya: Right. She asked us to go and buy it for you.
Manami: Mommy said that?
Shuuya: Here you go. A Valentine's Day present from your lovely mommy. (puts it on Manami)
Try opening it. There's chocolate inside. (the pouch shocks Manami with Shuuya's juiced up electrocution device)
Nao: What the hell? T... this is bad!
Shuuya: She's dead.
(back when Shuuya is confessing to Moriguchi that he killed Manami in the classroom)
I killed her 'cause she was a little brat that wouldn't shut up.
(Now back to the poolside)
If you tell them all that I did it, they'll let you off.
I told him that and headed home. But then that moron had to go and...
Nao: If it came out that the pouch had killed her. I thought I'd be guilty so... I thought if I made it look like she fell in the pool I wouldn't be found out.
Moriguchi: That was the truth behind Manami's death.
It wasn't simply the pouch that killed her. I took a look at it, and even taking account that she was four. It can't deliver enough of a shock to stop someone's heart. Manami had just fallen unconscious.
There's no doubt in my mind that her death was her drowning after B threw her into the pool. It's quite ironic.
A had the guts to kill someone, but failed to do so. B didn't want to hurt anyone, but ended up killing Manami.
Even if I brought forth this evidence to the police, the two would be protected by juvenile law, and would suffer nothing more than being put into care.
Essentially they'd be viewed as innocent. I've decided that that's simply not enough.
It's a teacher's duty to reprimand her students when they've done wrong. I intend to make the two of them realize the severity of their crimes and come to appreciate the importance of life. I want them to live, each day bearing the weight of their crimes.
I mixed a little something into the cartons of milk the two of them were drinking - the HIV contaminated blood of Masayoshi Sakuramiya.
Calm down! You were good enough to drink it all up too, thank you. I hope you look forward to the three month wait on blood tests.
If the results come back positive, the incubation period is five to ten years. Time enough, I think, to repent for your sins and realize the value of life.
(Shuuya runs out)
Spring is a season when everything bursts into life, the flowers, the grass, the birds, even the people. I wish you all a wonderful Spring holiday!
That's all I have to say. (Black screen - Confession: Yuko Moriguchi)
AT THIS POINT, THE REST OF THE MOVIE TALKS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MORIGUCHI'S CONFESSION. IF YOU'D RATHER WATCH FOR YOURSELF, I ADVISE THAT YOU DON'T READ THE REST. IF YOU DON'T CARE, THEN GO AHEAD AND CONTINUE.
Mizuki (narration): Miss Moriguchi, you wouldn't believe your eyes. Seeing the sunny smiles on the faces of our class, now that you've gone and the new term is rolling in.
April didn't bring any changes to our class, but it did bring a new face during homeroom.
Wether: Werther. That's what people have been calling me since my school days. But it's "Werther" not "worrier" you can count on me.
Mizuki (narration): The awful jokes kept coming. And he acted all friendly with us, like he had known us forever.
Werther: Naoki? Oh that's right, he caught a cold.
Mizuki (narration): Everyone knew Nao wasn't absent because of some stupid cold. What surprised us more was that Shuuya continued coming to school.
I think... everyone was just cowardly. They wanted to hide from the horrible truth Miss Moriguchi had shown us.
So they pretended to be stupid.
(Black screen - Confession: Mizuki Kitahara)
Werther: I'm sorry! I've been lying to you. I told you Naoki couldn't come to class because of colds or illnesses. But he's not just been skipping, he wants to come to class but he's very sick mentally.
Mizuki (narration): Werther was the only one in the class who didn't know why he was like that to begin with.
Werther: (talks about what they could do for Nao, like make leaflets) Class Rep Mizuki and I could take one to his house each week.
No good? What do you think, Mizuki?
Mizuki: Sounds okay.
Werther: Stand up! Thanks. Do you have a nickname too, Mizuki?
Mizuki: Mozuki. (moron Mizuki)
(At Nao's house)
Mizuki (narration): Nao's mother danced around the subject of the incident itself, and just kept blaming Miss Moriguchi.
Nao's Mother: I can't help but feel like she was so focused on her daughter that she lost sight the needs of her students.
Wether: So Naoki is...
Nao's Mother: Naoki... is the sort of boy who can do anything if he tries.
Nao's Mother: Nao-kun? (Nao comes out screaming, looks like he's been unbathed for weeks)
Nao: I told you to stay the hell away from me!
Nao's Mother: It's all that bitch's fault.
(black screen - Confession: Yuko Shimomura)
Nao's Mother (narration): That dear little Nao ended up like this... He wouldn't let me touch anything he had touched and insisted on washing every inch of it himself.
Yet for some reason he wouldn't wash his hair, and refused to take a bath. That bitch.
Moriguchi: Why Manami? Why did Manami have to die?
Nao's Mother: What are you babbling about?!
Nao's Mother (narration): She made it sound like it was all Nao's fault, even though he was just led astray by bad friends.
Nao's Mother: It's not fair.
(back at the classroom - a picture on the wall says 'Death to Watanabe Shuuya' - basically, the kids have been bullying him)
Mizuki (narration): Nobody knew who it was... (text - Holy war on the murderer! Gather those points!) ... who sent around those mails.
Werther: Who'll write some words to cheer up Naoki? (volunteers spring up - but they have another plan)
The message to Nao:
Students: Fill your heart with joy!
Students: The road ahead is still long!
Students: Kill off all your doubts!
Students: You live you learn!
Werther: Just call me Werther.
Mizuki: Doing this stuff isn't going to make Nao come to school. It might actually have the oppos...
Werther: Mozuki, relax. This is just a little adolescent angst. If he gets through it, he'll see the light.
Students: It's never over till you die!
Students: Let's go for it!
Nao's Mother (narration): Why? Why is it that Nao can be peaceful, but every time that guy comes here he's terrified.
That stupid teacher, spouting that optimistic rubbish. He's useless.
I slipped sleeping pills in his food. My husband was away on work. And my eldest daughter was busy with her studies in Tokyo.
There was nobody in the house but the two of us. Nobody to protect him but me. (Nao's mother washes him - he wakes up screaming)
(she's looking at old pictures of him)
Nao: Mom... (she's startled)
Nao's Mother: Nao...
Nao: (picks up a picture of himself) Who's this? The heck he's smiling for?
Mizuki (narration): June. There are bullies in this class, and the one being bullied is Watanabe Shuuya. This note was among the homework I took in yesterday.
It took courage to write this, I'm not just going to ignore it. I think the bullied are just jealous because Shuuya's the smartest kid in the year.
Don't think you can just walk all over him just because he's smarter than you!
Mizuki (narration): He couldn't have been more wrong.
The ability to bully those weaker than you. The ability to forget things you don't want to face.
(the kids are now pushing around Shuuya and Mizuki)
Female Student: Hey, it was you who grassed us up, right?
Mizuki: No! It wasn't me!
(narration) The class blamed me. Because I was the only one whose punishment points sat at 0.
Female Murderer: Allying yourself with a murderer, don't you have any shame, Mozuki? Don't you feel sorry for Miss Moriguchi?
(they force the two to kiss)
Mizuki (narration): Miss... our class is finished.
Nao's Mother: Naoki's crying. He's probably thinking about the accident. And crying for the girl who died. It's clear to me.
I know he hasn't changed a bit. That same old gentleness, he's still Naoki.
(she looks at a picture that Nao's classmates sent - she sees a hidden message)
Filll... the... kill... lear... Filthy killer. (she screams)
(Shuuya asks Mizuki to meet him - he shows her that he's negative for HIV)
Shuuya: Wanna go drink some juice?
So you already knew?
Mizuki: Yeah. Had to be a lie. Mixing HIV-infected blood into milk, couldn't believe everyone bought it.
Mizuki: Because if someone was really trying to kill someone, or get revenge they wouldn't feed us shit about the importance of life.
(just a side note - at this point, I've literally been doing the whole movie word for word, or at least what my subtitles have told me. Just so you know, I'm going to skip some scenes and lines now for my own sake. You'll probably like it more when you watch scenes you didn't see happen anyway.)
Nao's Mother: I'll pay for it all. Everything.
Nao: I'm a murderer.
Nao's Mother: No you're not! You were just trying to protect your friend so you took the body, and...
Nao: It wasn't a body. She was still breathing. That's why I threw her in the pool.
Nao's Mother: S.. So she was still breathing... and you just didn't realize! That's right.
Nao: Not really. She opened her eyes right in front of me. So I just...
Mizuki: July. No one dared to bully Shuuya anymore.
Mizuki (narration): I told Shuuya a secret I had kept from everyone else.
That Lunacy girl... is my other side. I let him see the real me, that I hid from everyone else.
Nao's Mother: Naoki isn't Naoki anymore. The gentle Naoki that I loved... is gone.
(narration) I'm going to take Naoki with me to... to heaven.
Mizuki (narration): The next day, the end of the year ceremony was postponed. A staff meeting was held because Naoki... killed his mother.
Shuuya (narration): Nobody taught me that killing people was wrong. Where other kids got read picture books and fairy tales, my mom taught me Ohm's Law and Norton's theorum. She only ever talked about electronics.
Shuuya's Mother: You have the same blood as me, the same talent flows in your veins.
(bubble pops by Shuuya's ear)
Shuuya: At that moment... I heard the sound of someone important to me disappearing.
(black screen - Confession: Watanabe Shuuya)
Shuuya: 31st of August... I put a bomb in the school.
I'll be sent to pieces along with all those idiots at school. The media will be all over it of course, but it would be bothersome for them to misrepresent me or fill in the blanks in my story themselves.
So I'm leaving my last will and testament... on this website.
(Shuuya explains how all he wanted to do was to impress his mother - winning the science fair didn't help, so he decided to commit a murder)
(back at the poolside after Manami is killed)
Shuuya: Don't think I'll drag you into this, I never thought of you as a friend anyway. You're pathetic, untalented, and utterly worthless.
(Nao after he killed his mother)
Nao: All I wanted to do was to be friends... with you. I didn't have any friends. Nobody paid any attention to me at all. Nobody had ever acknowledged me before.
So I choose a target like you asked. I wonder, I wonder even remember anymore. I just did what I was told.
I scouted around the pool, but you... He... He just wanted to kill someone. But he failed. She was still alive. She was still breathing.
I'm worthless? He wanted to kill someone and screwed up. He's the worthless one! Tough luck! I'll just do what he never did!
Nao: Yet... I'm still alive. I don't think it's fully dawned on me yet.
(black screen - Confession: Shimomura Naoki)
I stink... but this is proof that I'm alive. And the fact that I'm still hungry.
Why? (Shuuya: Because you're worthless) I am not! I'm..
Nao's Mother: You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
(flashback before she is killed - Nao's mother stabs him, but he is not dead)
I'm sorry Nao.
Nao: Why? (Shuuya: Because you're worthless)
Nao's Mother: I'm sorry. It's my fault, I didn't raise you right. (cries)
(Shuuya: Worthless - Nao goes crazy and stabs her repeatedly)
(at Shuuya's house - note: this is a flashback because... you'll see)
Shuuya: Lunacy is your other side? The fuck is that supposed to mean? Entertaining yourself with stupid daydreams... I'm not buying it.
Shuuya: You have the guts to kill anyone, right? Then drink this shit yourself and die.
Mizuki: Oedipus complex. You're nothing more than a little baby who's been crying for his mother who left him. You don't even have the guts to just go and see her.
You're scared, right? That if you go see her, she'll push you away. You don't want to think that she didn't wa-- (Shuuya hits her in the face with a metal object)
That day, I came across you by chance.
(at the school - Shuuya just gave his speech during the end of the year ceremony - it's about the beauty of life)
Shuuya: But I believe that life is... that every life is important. That every life is beautiful. There isn't a single life in this world that can simply be cast away!
... Just kidding. (the bomb doesn't work because it has disappeared)
(Moriguchi calls Shuuya's cellphone)
Moriguchi: Shuu, this is your mommy. I'm so sorry for leaving you alone all this time.
Shuuya: Who is this?
Moriguchi: It's Moriguchi. It's been a while. I picked up the little present you left in the gym. It was the feeble work of a feeble mind. I had no problem disarming it.
Though you helped me out blabbing all about it on that website of...
Shuuya: Shut up!
Moriguchi: Not while I still have so much to say. I thought about how to take revenge on you, and even if I killed you you don't seem to especially value your own life.
I've been checking your site this whole time, wondering if there's no better way to punish you.
I saw that delightful little love letter you wrote to your mom. But I won't have you lying to so many people.
You're the clueless one here. Why do innocent people have to die for you? This was between you and your mother.
So why did you have to drag Manami and Kitahara into it?
Shuuya: I didn't care who I killed.
Moriguchi: Then why not start with your beloved mommy?
Shuuya: Shut up!
Moriguchi: Even if the law protects you, I'll never forgive you. After disarming the bomb this morning, I took a trip to visit someone.
And took them that lovely little present of your's. You were so desperate to meet her, and it was so easy for me.
I told her everything; How much you loved her and how many people you had sacrificed for her. She hadn't forgotten you, you know.
Moriguchi: Anyway, I gave her your present. That little invention of yours, and left.
I heard it too, the sound of something important to you disappearing. But it wasn't pop, it was more like KABOOM!
Shuuya: STOP IT!
Moriguchi: Watanabe... you're the one who made the bomb. And you're the one who pushed the detonator.
This is my revenge. I have plunged you into the depths of hell.
This is the first step toward your redemption.