Japanese thriller Masquerade Hotel keeps viewers on the edge of their seats for its full runtime of more than 2 hours.
Based on Keigo Higashino’s novel of the same name, Masquerade Hotel stars Takuya Kimura and Masami Nagasawa as a detective and a hotel receptionist respectively. Three murders committed in Tokyo lead Detective Kosuke Nitta to believe the next death will be at a hotel. He goes undercover there as a trainee, and receptionist Naomi Yamagishi is assigned to be his partner.
The two do not get on at first – Nitta’s only concern is catching the killer, and Yamagishi merely wants to protect her guests’ privacy – but the duo’s relationship evolves as they work together, which is reflected in a number of exchanges between them and the guests.
While the overall visual and design gets its job done, it’s the music and the nuances in the actors’ performances that are the driving force behind this film. What was especially intriguing was that the story is told in a non-linear narrative – it doesn’t start at the start, nor does it end at the end. Classical music plays a big role, and is used to highlight key frames in the film.
Although an amazing watch, the whole of Masquerade Hotel, is a little less than the sum of its parts. When the killer is revealed, it isn’t so much of an “aha” moment, as it is “we knew all along”. Still, there are worse ways to spend 132 minutes.