Home Entertainment Monster’s Sakura Ando brings her ‘rage’ to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest delicate masterpiece

Monster’s Sakura Ando brings her ‘rage’ to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest delicate masterpiece

Monster is finally being released in UK cinemas this week, and Express.co.uk had the chance to speak to celebrated Japanese actress Sakura Ando about her latest complex role.

In director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest drama, Sakura portrays single mother Saori, who becomes unraveled when her fifth-grade son starts exhibiting strange behaviour, leading to an uncomfortable confrontation with his teachers.

Sakura recently picked up both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards at the Japanese Academy Film Prize for Monster and Godzilla Minus One, respectively, two starkly different roles compared to her performance in Kore-eda’s most successful film so far, Shoplifters.

“When I first read the screenplay, I think I felt the same way viewers feel when they watch those scenes,” she said.

“This rage towards the school and what they’re doing.

“Obviously, as I read on my feelings change,” she teased. “But I decided that I had to hang on to the initial rage I felt.

“For me that’s all there was as Saori, there was just that rage from the initial part.

“When I was reading the script, I tried not to focus, I was half closing my eyes as I was reading the rest of the parts!”

Monster deftly handles hard-hitting topics such as single parenthood and child abuse at first before perspectives start to change in the second and third acts.

Sakura’s performance is consistent throughout, however, and she believes audiences worldwide will enjoy chewing on Kore-eda’s difficult yet engaging subject matter.

“It moved me to tears at the end,” she told Express.co.uk.

“I think people in Japan really took this movie to heart more than we imagined they would.

“There are a lot of people in Japan who love this film, and it feels like they’re more invested in it than we expected.

“When I do Q&As with the director, for example, it feels like the audience knows Monster better than we do!”

Sakura was also incredibly impressed with the film’s young actors Sōya Kurokawa and Hinata Hiiragi, who portray the film’s young friends Minato and Yori.

“There was a scene in front of a hospital where my son starts running and then I follow,” she recalled.

“It wasn’t in the script that he should start running, in the script he actually squats down.

“But, it was coming to the end of the day, it was starting to get dark, we were running out of time and the scene wasn’t working.

“We’d rehearsed it over and over. And in the end, he just broke out into a run. We knew if he was going to do this we wouldn’t have been able to shoot it that day. We had lost the light because it was such a big change.

“But the performance was so good we decided to respect this new action that had come out of him spontaneously and film it another day.

“As a result, I think it brought out an emotion in his performance that hadn’t been there before. And that was very impressive to witness.”

Sakura’s work on Monster was a very different experience with Kore-eda, she says, but the award-winning star assured us she would leap at the chance to work with him again.

Monster is available in UK cinemas from Friday, March 15.


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