Directed by Michihito Fujii and based on a book by Isoko Mochizuki, The Journalist stars Shim Eun-Kyung as Erika Yoshioka, a reporter for a Tokyo Newspaper, and the daughter of an esteemed freelance journalist. Erika believes that a reporter’s job is to inform the public and that is exactly what she is trying to do amid rising scandals in Japan’s government. While investigating another possible scandal involving the funding and approval of a new medical school, Erika crosses paths with Takumi Sugihara (Tori Matsuzaka), a bureaucrat working for the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office. Takumi’s former boss and mentor has just committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. It is soon discovered that a document sent anonymously to Erika came from Takumi’s mentor and it involves an even bigger government scandal than Erika initially thought.
The Journalist is
an effective drama that demonstrates the role the media should have in a
democratic country while also showing the seedy underbelly, where corrupt
politicians can hold sway over newspaper and news media editors. Using the
Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, which is supposed to play an
important role in National Security, members of the government use their
contacts to either bury a story or to disseminate misinformation and outright
lies to protect themselves and the government from any legitimate scrutiny.
Erika is a hard-working and tenacious reporter who is able to convince Takumi
to help her get the information she needs to prove what it actually going on
with the supposed medical school. Takumi’s mentor left many clues, but the
young bureaucrat must find and effectively leak the necessary information to
complete the puzzle and keep the real story from being covered up.
The acting and directing are excellent. We can readily see
how the current circumstances are affecting Takumi, and how he wants to do the
right thing to avenge his former boss, even, potentially at the expense of his
young and growing family. Erika is at times reminded about the death of her
father and the belief that either the government or media were complicit. The
story, which is nicely paced is, at times, harrowing without going overboard.
It stays a realistic drama without drifting into thriller territory, thus never
becoming unbelievable. Some of the characters may be downright sinister but are
nonetheless surprisingly normal: bureaucrats are willing to follow orders from
above but also make subtle threats when needed to keep others in line.
Essentially, do your job, keep your head down, and you’ll be fine.
The Journalist thoroughly
captures the current state of affairs between governments and the media, and
the potential for lines to become blurred, or crossed altogether. It conveys a timely
lesson for the media and the public alike – be careful of your news sources and
keep them varied.
Colleen Wanglund is a self-described bookwhore, gorehound, and metalhead. She can usually be found with a book in her hand or on her laptop, either watching movies or writing about them. Colleen has also been known to frequent midnight screenings of some of her favorite flicks, as she lives in New York City—the best city for seeing movies.