I Just Didn't Do It ***
Directed by Masayuki Suo
Written by Masayuki Suo
Ryo Kase as Teppei Kaneko
Asaka Seto as Riko Sudo, Lawyer
Kohji Yamamoto as Tatsuo Saito
Masako Motai as Toyoko kaneko
Kôji Yakusho as Masayoshi Arakawa, Lawyer
143 Minutes(Not Rated)
"I Just Didn't Do It" is probably the best depiction of a full trial that I have seen since James Stewart played a lawyer in "Anatomy of a Murder." And this is a film, very much like "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," that does a commentary on the painful process of something in the country-that film being health care and this film being the legal system-by actually putting you in the very center of it, for every single hellish second. I felt that this film was overlong, but at the same time the running time is used as a way to make the process even more painful. By the end, not only does the main character want it to all be over, but so does the viewer. It's a rather exhausting movie, a trick of the film maker since it almost all takes place in one room-the courtroom.
Our main character is Teppei Kaneko, who one day late for a job interview hopes into a crowded train car and ends up getting his jacket stuck in the door. Fumbling around he tries to get free, and when he gets out of the train at the next stop he is falsely accused of groping a young woman in front of him. He is told by his lawyers and cops to just admit to it, pay a fee, and leave. But Teppei refuses to do this, claiming over and over again that he is innocent. He eventually gets sucked into a trial, a number of public hearings that goes well into the double digits, with his lawyers and family and friends trying to find ways for him to get off, and him trying his best to keep a smile during the hell that follows.
"I Just Didn't Do It" is a well done trial procedural, giving us step by step into Japan's legal system. The injustices that the people face-at one point the judge that Teppei had was let go because he has a tendency to let gropers off easy-and a more strict judge was introduced. In addition nobody seems to even listen to Teppei when he tries to say that he didn't do it, and no matter what kind of evidence is produced-including an important witness and a reenactment video that they make-is almost ignored. When Teppei's lawyer gives the final statement the judge is taking a nap. This works as a great companion to the much superior masterpiece "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" in that both films really make you an observer at the weaknesses of some of these countries. That film was hellish but also had a better storytelling method. At times I really did have enough of this film-and the two hour and twenty minute run time seems massively excessive, even though this was clearly the intent of the director. It's a tough film to watch, but a worthy one.