Laplace’s Witch (Rapurasu no majo) (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Following a mysterious death, a scientist is brought in to hopefully rule it as an accident. As he does his research, a police detective desperately wants to rule it as a homicide. Mixed up in the middle of it all is a teenager with what looks to be psychic powers and her friend who has disappeared. What will they all find once all is said and done?

Directed by Takeshi Miike from a screenplay by Hiroyuki Yatsu and based on a novel by Keigo Higashino, Laplace’s Witch is a story that is full of potential but told in a way that ends up feeling like it drags on and on while the characters get to know each other, hide things from each other, reveal more and more about themselves, until they ultimately know what may be the truth. The film’s story is full of potential with its characters and the twists and turns it has, but somehow it manages to make the viewer not care all that much and to make them wish it would get to the point already. The film is an unexpectedly bland Miike outing, something that is majorly frustrating for his fans and those used to his film going balls-to-wall crazy.

The film is a bit on the bland side, but the performances are ok with a few completely crazy ones. The lead of Shusuke Aoe, the scientist called into the situation, is Sho Sakurai who does ok work here. It’s good, but it’s nothing to write home about with a few goofy acting choices. The way he takes his character seems serious at first, but feels like something is missing all along. The teen girl at the center of it all, Madoka Uhara, is played by Suzu Hirose who gives her life and a presence that is more than the rest of the cast each on their either but also put together for most. She’s the center of the film and her performance is the one that attracts attention positively and keeps it through each and every scene she is in. She’s the star here and the reason to watch this film and her performance shows this clearly. Fun to watch in a completely bonkers kind of way is Etsushi Toyokawa who’s part is better left un-discussed. His work here goes from nuts to insane to the-hell? in not time and he brings some insanity to an already odd film. Hos performance pretty cinches the film as something that some will love, but most will be a bit bored by.

Laplace’s Witch is one of those film that could have and should have been so much more. The potential for insanity is completely wasted and the film falls flat for most of its runtime. While the start of it has potential and the introduction of Madoka brings some interest, but the film doesn’t really reach its boiling point or even tries for it really. Given other film by Miike, the tonal shifts are as expected but the fun is missing. His work usually goes all out and makes the most of any story, giving the viewer exactly what they were looking for, even when the film is not entirely successful with its story, but here the film is not only bland and unsuccessful, it feels like it drags on and on. Laplace’s Witch is one of Miike’s films that just doesn’t work in the long run. A few will mostly likely love it, but for the majority, it will most likely be a dud.

Fantasia 2018 runs from July 12th to August 2nd, 2018.