Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s French Remake of ‘Serpent’s Path’ Could Be His Best Yet

TOKYO – Internationally acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest masterpiece is a remake of his own 1998 film, “Serpent’s Path,” starring award-winning actress Ko Shibasaki. This French suspenseful revenge movie, set to premiere in Japan on June 14, is regarded by the director as his “best film yet.”

“It was not of my own volition to do this self-remake, but it was actually because a French producer, about five years ago, approached me and asked me a very interesting question, and that was ‘If you were to remake one of your own films, what would that be?’ And this was an offer, and I was very surprised to receive it, but I remember that I immediately responded, ‘If I were allowed to do that, then that would definitely be ‘Serpent’s Path,’” Kurosawa, who won best director at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020 for his film “Wife Of A Spy,” said at a recent press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ).

The feature was adapted from an original story written by Hiroshi Takahashi, widely known for writing the horror films, “Ring” and “Ring 2.”

“Doing a remake of my own film is something that I have not done before, and this time, we had to move the setting to France, so we had to restructure the entire film,” the auteur, whose first French-language film was “Daguerreotype” in 2016, added.

“I knew that doing a self-remake and making it very similar to the original would not necessarily be a taboo thing to do,” he commented. “In rewriting it, I knew that I had to inject at least one new thing into the film, which was the gender of the main character.”

“Serpent’s Path” follows freelance journalist Albert Bacheret, portrayed by famous French actor Damien Bonnard, as he seeks vengeance for his eight-year-old daughter’s murder. Consumed by rage, he teams up with Paris-based Japanese psychiatrist Sayoko, played by Shibasaki. Together, they abduct and interrogate former members of a disbanded foundation to uncover the truth behind the killing. However, Albert is unaware that he is about to uncover a devastating truth.

“The reason why I cast Ms. Shibasaki in this film was because she said ‘yes.’ We were wondering if there was any Japanese actress who would agree to star in this film, and we decided to just go big and try to get one of the most famous actors. And since she said yes, I told to myself, ‘yes, victory,’” Kurosawa shared.

Shibasaki agreed to do the film pursuant to an enthusiastic offer by the auteur. She underwent rigorous language training for six months prior to production and lived in the city for two months.

“I am really happy to work with such a great Japanese director, Mr. Kurosawa,” the “47 Ronin” actress beamed. “Little did I expect that Mr. Kurosawa would come to me and ask me to star in this film. I also saw this as an opportunity to go to France.”

Other Japanese cast members include Hidetoshi Nishijima, who portrays a mentally unwell patient of Sayoko’s, and Munetaka Aoki as Sayoko’s husband. - Florenda Corpuz