Acclaimed director Yoshimitsu Morita follows up on his wildly popular romantic crowd-pleaser Shitsurakuen with decidedly darker fare in this harrowing, labythine psychological drama. The film focuses on stage actor Masaki Shibata (Shinichi Tsutsumi), who allegedly killed a man and his five-month pregnant wife. When the police dig up his prints at the scene of the crime, Shibata quickly confesses, though he claims that he does not remember a thing about the incident. When his lawyer (Kirin Kiki) pays her client a visit, she discovers not one, but two starkly different personalities residing in Shibata's slight body -- one is a mild-mannered, sensitive chap and the other is a stark-raving lunatic. The court psychiatrist (Naoki Sugiura) learns of his psychotic tendencies when an innocent question about the actor's one-man-show results in the shrink's back to the wall, a forearm across his throat, and a hail of obscenities that would make General George Patton blush. Under Article 39 (the literal translation of this movie's title) of Japanese law, defendants who are deemed mentally insane cannot be held for their crimes. The court shrink is more than willing to label Shibata as crazy but his assistant Kafuka Ogawa (Kyoka Suzuki) is less convinced. With her father offing himself before her eyes and her mother's descent into obsessive compulsion, Kafuka has an intimate understanding of mental illness. She believes that the actor is in fact acting to beat his murder rap. This film was screened at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.
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