The Murder of Snow White (Film Review)

The Murder of Snow White


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Technical Elements

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Kanae Minato profile image with the book covers of three novels

The film is based on the novel ‘Shiro Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken‘ by Kanae Minato. She has written several works and apparently many of them have been turned into film, although this was the first of her works that I’ve seen. Minato is a rather popular psychological thriller author known as the ‘queen of Iyamisu’. Iyamisu is a subgenre of mystery fiction that analyzes the potential for evil and brutality amongst any one of us. These works tend to be rather dark and somewhat gory at times.

The Murder of Snow White’ fits this genre, although it’s not particularly gory – it does deal with the dark side of humanity.  The primary theme is how people’s perceptions and interpretation of events may be skewed by their own biases

As the investigative journalist Akahoshi is warned – ‘People have false memories. They only tell things that benefit them.’  His investigation relies primarily on interviews with people who know or worked with Miki and Noriko. Although their stories seem initially believable, small inconsistencies slowly make themselves clear.

Girl lying in pink dress with multiple stab wounds

In an almost unnoticeable stroke of film-writing, this theme is cultivated not only in the more obvious lies Akahoshi notices, but also small mis-directions he overlooks.

First is the frequently changing reports about the state of the body appearing in the background. Initial images of Noriko’s body show perhaps 10 stab wounds and no burnt corpse. When the new breaks, they state the body was stabbed more than a dozen times and burned. Then later it becomes ‘dozens’ of times.  The story changes with each repetition, but goes completely unremarked by the characters.

The second nod to the theme of biased perceptions is the confusion generated by the use of multiple Mi-chan’s and Miki’s. Miki Shirono is the main suspect, accused of murdering Miki Noriko.  The frequent use of their mutual name Miki which raises questions regarding who is being discussed at any given time. Furthermore, both and another colleague are all nicknamed Mi-Chan adding to the confusion. Akahoshi himself only clarifies once, creating the perception that what they say may not be what you are hearing.

Side by side comparison of the two women

Throughout the film, there is a sense that each person describes the events from their own biased perceptions. Even Akahoshi is focusing on creating a shocking story that gets his name in the public eye more than he cares about finding the truth. Notably, the investigation is based purely on what he hears people say – hearsay. There is never any hard evidence.

This leads to the second theme – ‘The internet exposes the truth. The internet accuses falsely.’ This is something of an extension of the first theme – analyzing how personal biases and misconceptions are exacerbated where people receive and filter information through the internet and social media. 

Streem of twitter posts scrolling across a screen

Akahoshi posts his findings in a stream of simultaneous tweets . . . sometimes his posts even overlap the interview itself as he posts while the person is still talking. In true internet style, he often publishes information intermixed with his own rapid-fire conclusions based on what he is hearing. He is the embodiment of fake or at least questionable news, growing with the commentary and assumptions of his readers.

Director Nakamura demonstrates the stream of conscious nature of the internet – producing accusations and claims moment by moment based only on questionable information available from biased sources. There is the potential for a covered up or overlooked truth to be revealed, as greater access to data provides the opportunity to catch Shirono.  But there is also the potential for misdirection and false accusations or damage to the innocent.  The truth needs to be revealed.

My overall rating of this show is probably a 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I think it is definitely worth a watch, though I won’t say it’s among the top Japanese mysteries I’ve seen.  It had a strong plot and I was genuinely surprised by the ending.  That’s always great for a mystery fan! 

If you like slightly philosophical crimes with social commentary thrown in, it’s a pretty good film.  Check it out!

Check out the Film Version of this Review on Youtube Here!

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