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One Third - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2014

Crime, Comedy, Action

Hiroshi Shinagawa

Tatsuya Fujiwara
Koki Tanaka
Ryuichi Kosugi
Mika Nakashima
Yosuke Kubozuka
Shinnosuke Ikehata
Ryo Kimura
Sho Aikawa
Mitsu Dan

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One Third

Story: Shu (Tatsuya Fujiwara) owns the nightclub Honey Bunny and business is doing well. But Shu also likes horse races. When one day he takes a bag with the club's monthly income to the horse races the bag gets stolen. He is desperate since he is supposed to hand over the earnings to ruthless gangster Hama (Yosuke Kubozuka). If he doesn't give him the money, he wouldn't live very long. Then, by accident, he runs into Maria (Mika Nakashima), who once worked at Shu's nightclub. She takes him to gangster Shibugaki (Shinnosuke Ikehata) who is lending him money with a very high interest rate. Nonetheless, this is just a temporary solution, because now Shu has only two weeks to get the money. Maria, who herself is in strong need of a big amount of money, approaches him with a plan. She wants to rob a bank. But for this Shu needs two more helping hands. He finds one accomplice in his employee Koji (Koki Tanaka) who he also shares an apartment with and who also has some gambling debts. The third one in the mix is Ken (Ryuichi Kosugi), a nightclub regular, whose business isn't doing so well. Now, the three find themselves standing in the Honey Bunny and become aware that every one of them seems to have his own agenda...

Review: "One Third" is an extremely ambitious heist movie which delivers so many twists and turns that it almost makes you feel dizzy. There isn't just one single plan, but a second one is being revealed after the first, leading to more and more layers being pealed off, as if working with an onion, until at some point we eventually push towards the true core of the story. We owe the very smart screenplay to the novel by Hanta Kinoshita which the movie is based on. Therefore, the actual driving force behind the picture is clearly the story, but the directing also impresses. Thanks to long shots some scenes look almost improvised, giving them authenticity. Furthermore, this way the movie's pacing is almost pushed to the limit as well.

One Third - Film Screenshot 11

First, let's talk about the directing by Hiroshi Shinagawa, who was once one half of a comedy duo. Hiroshi comes up with quite a lot and thus gives "One Third" a very special touch. For instance, there are the aforementionted long shots, which nevertheless never look cheap or shaky since the technical aspects of the film are top-notch. Then, the current scene shifts to black-and-white every once in a while and Maria tells us about her agenda without anyone of the people around her being able to hear her. Sort of an inner monologue that is communicated to the viewer. There are quite a lot of monologues, not only of this certain kind. Every now and then one of the characters explains prior events, oftentimes realized as a voice-over. Accordingly, we get more and more puzzle pieces as the movie progresses. At first, we get to know what happened six days prior to the bank robbery, then five and so forth.

One Third - Film Screenshot 12

Hiroshi Shinagawa has clearly been influenced by Quentin Tarantino, which is also put into the movie's focus itself - Shu is a movie buff and constantly carries the events to a meta level -, thus making numerous obvious or not so obvious references: the club that is called Honey Bunny, the bar called Travolta, the horse "Jacky Brown" etc. Apart from that there are also a few stand-offs which remind us of Tarantino as well as many dialogues full of wit and a brisk pacing. Especially the dialogues oftentimes turn out to be very funny, too, and originate from the comedy duo stand-up past of the director. Accordingly, there are also a lot of pretty absurd scenes and dialogues as well. This is certainly entertaining and it also puts you into a good mood. However, this often stands in stark contrast to the actually very serious scenes.

For instance, there are some small knife fights, a pretty gross side note on eating brains and the raping of a man. Well, how is this supposed to fit together? You get the impression that all of this isn't supposed to be taken that serious, but how you are supposed to do so eludes my comprehension. Thus, this stark contrast between disturbing violence and pleasing family entertainment is the most obvious weakness of "One Third". In fact, the other aspect this heist-movie struggles with is that there are simply too many twists. In some respect you have to marvel at the intricate plot, but from a certain point onward you get such a feeling of surfeit that the next twist isn't surprising anymore at all. Because we know there just had to be another one. As already said it is still impressive that there are more and more small surprises come up with along the way.

One Third - Film Screenshot 13

The different characters are all supposed to remain inscrutable, which sometimes makes it difficult to relate to them. But making up for that are some comedy elements. Tatsuya Fujiwara ("Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends", "Shield of Straw") stands as the main character we should relate to, but more interesting are the acting efforts of Mika Nakashima ("Nana") and most importantly Yosuke Kubozuka ("Ichi", "Go"). The numerous colorful characters give "One Third" a lot of entertainment value, too. There are also a few action scenes, but all in all the strong point of this clever heist-movie is its screenplay with its many twists and its stylish directing. A heist-movie that certainly stands out from the rest of the genre and thus is clearly recommended.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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