Date Showing Showing On 5, 7, 8 August
Time Showing Monday 6pm, Wednesday 4pm and Thursday 6pm


M 2hrs 6mins
mystery | 2024, Japan | Japanese

A mother demands answers from her son's teacher when her son begins acting strangely.


Mature themes and suicide references

Kore-eda Hirokazu
Original Review
Extracted By
Anne Green
Sakura Andô, Eita Nagayama, Soya Kurokawa

Watch The Trailer

MONSTER (Kaibutsu, 怪物) Trailer | Cambridge Film Festival 2023 | #CFF42

Storyline (warning: spoilers)

Some directors are known for their car chases, Hirokaru Kore’eda is celebrated for his portrayals of families – big, small, sometimes barely recognisable as such. In Monster, the family consists of only a single mother, Saori Mugino (Sakura Ando), and her 11-year-old son, Minato (Soya Kurokawa), living in a provincial Japanese city. As they sit together, talking to a photograph of Minato’s dead father, we can see how closely they are bonded.
The mother-son relationship develops cracks when Minato starts acting strangely, snipping away at his own hair, coming home from school with only one shoe. One evening he doesn’t come home at all, being eventually located in an old train tunnel hidden in the nearby woods. When he sustains an injury to his ear, Saori heads to his school to see what’s going on.
Kore’eda resolves the mystery by degrees, jumping back and forth in time to show us the origins of the things we can’t explain. These jumps are handled so seamlessly it takes a few seconds each time for us to realise where we are. In this film, nothing is quite what it seems. The crucial figure may not be the teacher Mr. Hori (Eita Nagayama), but Minato’s classmate, Yori Hoshikawa (Hinata Hiiragi), a small boy who is disliked by most of the class because of his eccentric behaviour. It’s Yori who claims constantly that he has a pig’s brain, and who leads Minato to the tunnel in the woods, where he has a hideout in an old train carriage. Yori is unhappy at home, being raised by a beer-swilling father.
While we are trying to understand the relationship between Minato and Yori, Mr. Hori is being persecuted by reporters. Kore’eda keeps us wondering about who, if anyone, is the monster. With each part of the puzzle falling into place, the picture keeps changing. It’s not even clear what being a “monster” might mean. Everyone has a hard time in this story, but they are given ample opportunity to declare their innocence to the audience, and the ending is not at all what one might expect. Perhaps the monster is no more than a red herring.

Rate This Movie