Evil Does Not Exist

Japan | 2023 | 105 min. | Ryûsuke Hamaguchi

Now Playing - Jun 19, 2024

After finally breaking through in the U.S. with the Oscar®-winning Drive My Car, filmmaker Ryûsuke Hamaguchi turns his eye to Mizubiki, a remote lakeside village that’s about to be overtaken by a new “glamping” site built on sensitive natural land.

With parts originally conceived as a visual accompaniment to Eiko Ishibashi’s stunning original score, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s meditation on a mountain village’s duty to the natural world proves imminently capable of conveying a compelling story without words. Opening sequences enmesh us in daily rural life: friends collect fresh water for the evening’s soup from an icy alpine brook, a wandering young girl marvels at bare trees swaying against an icy blue sky, her forgetful father chops wood with well-honed precision outside a cozy cabin. Later, a talent agency from nearby Tokyo intrudes on the idyllic community to pitch a pandemic-funded project set to develop their woods into a glamping resort. The municipal proceedings, an exercise in firm but politely worded discourse that would do Frederick Wiseman proud, are compelling in the depth of care expressed by long-term residents weary of the environmental effects of intruding tourists. When the story shifts to the out-of-their-depth functionaries charged with implementing the ill-conceived project, the film grants them humanity as they ponder the implications of what they’ve been hired to do. A stirring film of quiet observation, its enrapturing spell weaves disparate threads together in an increasingly dreamlike third act’s confrontation of capitalism will spark conversations long after the credits roll.

—Josh Bis

  • Original Language Title: Aku wa Sonzai Shinai
  • Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
  • Principal Cast: Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka, Ayaka Shibutani
  • Country: Japan
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 105 min.
  • Producer: Satoshi Takata
  • Screenplay: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
  • Cinematographers: Yoshio Kitagawa
  • Editors: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Azusa Yamazaki
  • Music: Eiko Ishibashi
  • Awards: Venice International Film Festival 2023 (Grand Jury Prize)
  • Filmography: Drive My Car (2021), Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (2021), Happy Hour (2015)
  • Language: Japanese
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • US Distributor: Janus/ Sideshow
  • International Sales: M-Appeal