Evil Does Not Exist (2023) Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Dense, unconventionally lyrical, problematic in its presentation of the confrontation between man and nature, “Evil Does Not Exist” deserves to raise questions and approach the topic of the environment in a properly multifaceted manner. Another piece in the filmography of such a valuable author as Ryusuke Hamaguchi. At competitions in Venice 80.

Glamping at the end of the world

After thinking about time and art, we appreciated Drive my carRyusuke Hamaguchi’s cinema partly changes its themes and setting, moving to the rural areas of a village near Tokyo and taking into account suggestions from environmentalists. This was a particularly anticipated film Evil doesn’t existon the poster of this 80sTo Venice Film Festival publication; this is due both to the level of its director and to the influence that environmental problems have, now universally, on the modern public. However, the point of view from which Hamaguchi addresses this topic in his new work is undoubtedly a very personal one: it focuses on the micro-sociological dimension and emphasizes, above all, the concrete impact that a certain pattern of territorial exploitation can have on the life of a small community. . A treatment that, in keeping with the Japanese director’s narrative style, develops mainly through subtraction and extensive use of symbolism, focusing on the daily life of the village, the delicate balance established with the environment and the cracks exposed in it. external element and destroyer.

(Im)possible balance

The plot is based on Takumi“handyman” from Mizubiki village living with his daughter Hana, in a tiny community that has always been accustomed to respecting the cycles of nature. The news that a “glamping site”—that is, a luxury campsite aimed at wealthy vacationers—will soon be built in the hills above Mizubiki causes a creeping unease among the villagers; A public meeting with two company officials ends up reinforcing doubts rather than dispelling them, especially due to the specific risk of contamination of the site (and spring water in particular) that the project appears to entail. Meanwhile, in the forest around the village, shots from hunters are increasingly heard, and finds of wild animal carcasses are multiplying; all this indicates a balance with an already fragile environment that the new project risks completely destroying. A compromise between progress and tradition, acceptance of the new and respect for a now marginalized model of life seems as necessary as it is a problematic achievement.

Cynical lyricism

A very long tracking shot that opens up Evil doesn’t exist – then repeated several times throughout the film – suggests a lyricism of the environment (and its representation), which the director then delights in problematizing and deconstructing. True to its title, Hamaguchi’s film avoids any Manichaeism, as well as any reductionism in the idyllic sense of a rural context; and does this by emphasizing the fragility of the latter, on the one hand, and the ability to respond to human aggression (even) with violence, on the other. What is satirized in the film’s frequent grotesque parentheses is, in particular, a certain facile and facile fascination with social life and its rituals, expressed – albeit with impeccable naivety – by two of the company’s representatives. The very use of sound, sometimes deliberately artificially superimposed on the surrounding noise, and in a couple of cases sharply truncated, suggests the director’s attitude towards the cinematic image itself: an image that, through its spectacular means, is seen to turn (in a certain sense) into “violence” in relation to the surrounding environment. environment and conscious distortion of its perception. It is in this sense that the development of the plot – in parallel with the protagonist’s awareness of the danger to which the community is exposed – marks a progressive approach to the most brutal and basic level of the clash between man and nature, which is exemplified in the final scene.

Difficulty of comparison

A visually and narratively rigorous film that deliberately removes the verbal element in favor of environmental representation. Evil doesn’t exist opens up to various proposals in which the theme of the environment is overlaid with the theme of generations – with a silent problematic comparison between Takumi and little Hana – and with comparisons between different human groups. Hamaguchi’s film becomes more consciously “informative” and is told only through a public meeting sequence with two company representatives, and a subsequent ironic scene in which they report the residents’ doubts to their boss; Otherwise, the dialogue between Takumi and Hana, as well as the dialogue between the same two employees (which also uses a car camera), gives the unspoken and silent a meaning at least equal to that of the verbal element. Unspoken, which in the final stage is filled with deliberately dreamlike tones and an outbreak of violence, which in the end was also not at all unpredictable. A consistent development for a work like Hamaguchi’s, whose virtue is that it imbues the world he creates with the right ambivalence, bringing him back to its complexity. A complexity and multi-dimensionality that should be welcomed with undoubted approval, for a movie that stimulates thought and avoids any temptation to simplistic brochure.


There is no such thing as evil, original movie poster by Ryusuke Hamaguchi.


Original name: Aku wa sonzai shinai
Direction: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Country/year: Japan / 2023
Duration: 106 minutes
Type: Dramatic
Throw: Ayaka Shibutani, Hitoshi Omika, Rei Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka
Film script: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Photo: Yoshio Kitagawa
Music: Eiko Ishibashi
Director: Satoshi Takada, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Eiko Ishibashi
Production house: Fictional, NEOP
Distribution: Theodora Film, Tucker Film

From the same directors or screenwriters

Independent journalist and film critic. I collaborate or have collaborated with various online and print publications including (in chronological order) L’Acchiappafilm, Movieplayer.it and Quinlan.it. Since 2018, I have been a consultant for the psycho-educational events “Stelle Diverse” and “Aspie Saturday Film”, organized by the CuoreMenteLab center in Rome. In 2019, I founded the website Asbury Movies, of which I am the editor and managing director.

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