The Gun (Japan, 2018) [NYAFF 2019]

On a dark and rainy night, college student Toru Nishikawa (Murakami Nijiro) comes across a handgun. Without much thought, he picks it up and takes it to his home. Later he sees a television news item that the body of a male in his 40s or 50s had been found near the Arakawa River in Itabashi Ward. The deceased had been shot in the head and been dead for about five days.

Undeterred by the gun’s apparent association with a homicide, Toru continues to covet it. Initially he’s satisfied with just taking it out and polishing it occasionally. However, it gradually begins to take greater and greater hold on his somewhat fragile and damaged psyche. He begins carrying it around with him, gradually becoming more obsessed with the idea of actually firing it.

The situation also takes a toll on his love life, interfering with his relationship with one girl that he’s just sleeping with and his more romantic one with fellow student Yuko Yoshikawa (Alice Hirose).

Most disturbing is the appearance of a detective (Lily Franky) who is sure that Toru is in possession of the weapon. Basically certain that the young man is not a murderer, the detective tries to convince Toru to disassemble the gun and disperse the pieces, lest he be eventually tempted to use it, with disastrous consequences.

Director Masaharu Take’s earlier feature 100 Yen Love (2014) was showcased at the 2015 JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film, so he’s no stranger to the New York Asian film festival scene. He displays a sure hand in moving along this slow-burner of a psychological thriller, which for almost all its 97 minute running length is shot in beautiful, high contrast black and white.

The Gun is showing at the New York Asian Film Festival 2019 on June 30.