[Herald Review] “Journalist”, an imperfect but worthy attempt to take the pulse of society

Watching “The Journalist” by director Michihito Fujii, I must have remembered that this is a film based in Japan and not South Korea, so much did it remind me of a similar incident here a few years ago. barely, during which the government went rogue to abuse its power and sway public opinion in its favor.

Having said that, I have mixed feelings about the final product. I wasn’t a fan of Shim Eun-Kyung’s performance – an accomplished actress restrained speaking in a foreign language – and the narrative was oversimplified compared to the actual story it was loosely based on, as it was strangely devoid of energy.

The Journalist (Pop Entertainment)

All the same, I felt that the film pointed out several poignant issues that are worth pondering in Korean and Japanese society.

The film follows a young reporter named Yoshioka Erika (Shim), a young Japanese reporter trained in the United States and working for the fictional Toto Shimbun. When an unidentified source sends the newspaper a classified document on a shady blueprint to build a medical university, Yoshioka continues the story despite slim leads.

Meanwhile, Sugihara Takumi (Tori Matsuzaka), an official working for the Cabinet Intelligence Office, becomes skeptical of his job of manipulating public opinion and discrediting anyone his superiors deem “against the interest. of the nation ”, including the victim of sexual assault. He’s caught between wanting to keep a low profile to support his family – which includes a baby on the way – and wanting to do the right thing.

But when Sugihara’s former boss and mentor meets an unexpected fate, he can no longer stand idly by and get involved in Yoshioka’s crusade, taking a risk that could easily end up destroying them both.

The question raised by the film is relevant in today’s world: what is the role of traditional media at a time when so much information is circulating on the Internet? How much credibility can we give to the waves of information we read every day?

The Journalist (Pop Entertainment)

The Journalist (Pop Entertainment)

Taking the form of a political thriller, the film features an official government body manipulating public opinion in quite obvious ways. Intelligence workers become faceless servants of an evil empire, typing in a cold, bluish environment, and the administration is described as absolute evil. In the newsroom, Yoshioka’s shaky camera and shy demeanor are used to portray his uncertainty.

Maybe this is the director’s style, but I felt the symbolism lacked subtlety and was too capricious, and Yoshioka’s process of gathering information was rather vague and unrealistic. But the subsequent scene when the article was created was beautifully done with quick editing that paired well with the tone of the climax.

As a thriller, I felt the plot was rather predictable and too linear, as the characters were one-dimensional and the twists were obvious; anyone could predict who was the source of the mystery by the second act. The story itself was a bit artificial, with characters acting the way they do just because the script demands it.

In terms of acting, this is far from Shim’s best job. Her performances in other films prove she can perform, but her stiff demeanor, low energy level, and limitations inherent in online delivery have proven to be costly. Matsuzaka, on the other hand, did a good job of portraying someone stuck in a dilemma.

While not exactly a remarkable film, I admire the director and the cast for boldly raising the central issue of the film, which is not an easy thing to do in the current political situation in Japan. Also, as a Korean, I thought it touched on some thoughts that the Japanese and Koreans should really take into account.

Almost a decade ago, South Korean intelligence officials plotted to manipulate public opinion ahead of the 2012 presidential election, which resulted in the victory of ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye . Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the sentences imposed on those involved in the case, including four years in prison for former head of the National Intelligence Service, Won Se-hoon.

The term “fake news” is something that almost anyone living in today’s society can escape. “The Journalist” challenges viewers to tackle this problem and really think about the role of traditional media and social media services in dictating what people think.

The film hits local theaters on Thursday.

By Yoon Min-sik ([email protected])

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