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The Scythian Lamb (2017)

Hitsuji no ki (original title)
Suffering from population decline, the small seaside town of Uobuka decides to welcome 6 strangers into the community. A malevolent fishing boat operator (Kazuki Kitamura), a sexy caregiver... See full summary »

Director:

Daihachi Yoshida

Writers:

Tatsuhiko Yamagami (manga), Mikio Igarashi (manga)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Ryô Nishikido Ryô Nishikido ... Hajime
Fumino Kimura ... Aya
Kazuki Kitamura ... Katsushi sugiyama
Yûka Yûka ... Rieko
Mikako Ichikawa Mikako Ichikawa ... Kiyomi
Shingo Mizusawa Shingo Mizusawa ... Fukumoto
Min Tanaka ... Katsumi ohno
Ryûhei Matsuda ... Ichiro
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Storyline

Suffering from population decline, the small seaside town of Uobuka decides to welcome 6 strangers into the community. A malevolent fishing boat operator (Kazuki Kitamura), a sexy caregiver, a frightening launderer, a timid barber, a methodical cleaning woman (Mikako Ichikawa), and a simple-minded deliveryman (Ryuhei Matsuda) are all brought together by this mysterious government-sponsored program. Even Tsukisue, the young city official put in charge of the program, has no idea why they've been brought to town. But when the truth comes out about the six strangers' mysterious past and a body is discovered in the harbor, Tsukisue begins to suspect the motley crew of foul play. Part black comedy, part murder mystery thriller the latest from director Daihachi Yoshida perfectly blends humor and suspense. Written by Anna Page, Hawaii International Film Festival

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Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

3 February 2018 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Scythian Lamb See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Trivia

The film was part of the line-up at Japanese Canadian Film Festival in Toronto in 2018. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Smooth mixture of drama and thriller elements
10 August 2019 | by klusebaSee all my reviews

Based upon a manga, Hitsuji no ki, which translates to Sheep Tree and is internationally known under the poetic title The Scythian Lamb, is a slow-paced and brilliantly acted mixture of a drama and a thriller. The movie deals with philosophical topics such as prejudice, redemption and trust. Different facets of Japanese folklore are also being explored.

Naive but good-hearted city employee Tsukisue Hajime receives the order to assist six completely unrelated strangers who relocate to the decaying port city of Uoboka to start new careers. He bonds with some of these individuals but soon learns that they are all convicted murderers. After an Initial shock, he feels more determined than ever to assist them but when his personal life and professional career intertwine, a series of increasingly dangerous events is going to disturb the calm region.

The movie has a slow pace that takes its time to introduce the sympathetic lead character, his charming love interest, his self-confident boss and the six intriguing strangers. The movie loses some pace after the background of these strangers is revealed and makes think of a slice of life approach as the viewers follow the lead character's everyday life intertwined with anecdotes involving the six strangers. The movie gets more interesting in its second half as a complicated love triangle starts to take shape. The city employee's childhood friend starts dating one of the convicted murderers and the city employee reveals his real identity to win her back. The dramatic events soon take a sinister turn during a festival involving local folklore. This mixture of a smooth drama evolving into a passionate love triangle which ultimately becomes a grisly thriller with supernatural hints is certainly very unique but might be confusing, especially to Western audiences.

The acting performances are versatile and most importantly believable. The characters are attaching and the viewers will care about their fates. The settings in the remote city are intriguing. The folk festival introduces an intriguing cultural component. The plot has a few interesting twists and turns despite ist slow pace and remains unpredictable until the very end.

On the other side, the movie's rising action, taking place in the the second half of its first hour of running time, is too slow for ist own good. The movie loses momentum and focus and viewers might wonder what is going to happen next. A faster and more concise execution would have made the movie even more interesting.

In the end, The Scythian Lamb is an intriguing movie that finds the right balance between drama and thriller elements and convinces with intriguing characters. Fans of Japanese cinema and the manga this movie is based upon should certainly watch this overlooked gem. Personally, I would watch the film again and recommend it to my friends.


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