director Masahiro Shinoda
Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy is an oddly confusing, though possibly intentionally confusing, film. It opens with a moderate amount of voice-over narration, telling us the setting for the action herein. There are two warring clans with spies on both sides and a third clan, also with spies, trying to decide which other clan to side with. In this landscape of named but unseen characters, are representative samurai and spies, populating the complex spectrum of allegiances, and all perhaps lying to one another about their intents.
I don’t know how much the film means to reflect the Cold War era in which it was made or how much this existential spider’s web of knotted truths simply implies the complexities of trust and verity. The film is shot in the cramped streets of small villages and in the somewhat labyrinthine interiors of inns, restaurants, and village houses.
Adapted from a novel by Masahiro Shinoda, I’m willing to think that maybe the confusion was my own and perhaps not as intentional as I thought. The confusion, though, didn’t hinder my appreciation of the film though. It’s quite brilliant and intriguing. I really liked it.