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Villain review

Lee Song-il’s violent loser is a sensitive soul...

Nabbing five Japanese Oscars, Lee Song-il’s film is a chilly examination of casual cruelty in its many, mundane forms.

Introducing violent misfit Shimizu (Satoshi Tsumabuki), it mitigates his crimes by placing him among even more despicable characters and adopting new lover Mitsuyo’s (Eri Fukatsu) rose-tinted view.

Like early Haneke without the intellectual rigour but enlivened with beautiful moments of realisation, it’s a film that becomes harder to take the more it sides with its “sensitive” star.

Surely raping/killing people is reprehensible whether you cry at sunsets or not?

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Matt Glasby is a freelance film and TV journalist. You can find his work on Total Film - in print and online - as well as at publications like the Radio Times, Channel 4, DVD REview, Flicks, GQ, Hotdog, Little White Lies, and SFX, among others. He is also the author of several novels, including The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film and Britpop Cinema: From Trainspotting To This Is England.