TIFF 2017 Movie Review: CANIBA (France 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Caniba is a film that reflects on the discomforting significance of cannibalistic desire in human existence through the prism of one Japanese man, Issei Sagawa, and his mysterious relationship with his brother, Jun Sagawa.


Directed by duo Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (LEVIATHON), who are also anthropologists, CANIBA is about Issei Sagawa, the notorious Japanese cannibal now living a reclusive life as a paralytic and seeking atonement for his gruesome crimes. 


 The film begins with his confession, his face in extreme closeup so, that one can also see all the defects in his face, with him talking about his crime and the reason for it.   Issei was deported from Paris in 1981 after being held in prison for two years for murdering and cannibalizing Dutch student Renée Hartevelt (as told in voiceover).  


The film is extremely slow and the action or non action is unveiled grainy, cinema-verite style.  The brother now takes care of Issei and now semi-paralyzed, housebound on the outskirts of Tokyo, and seeking atonement.


  The link between sexual fantasies and cannibalism is also examined in the film.  Not for everyone!  The film ends, appropriately, with a karaoke song about madness!


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