Evil Does Not Exist 2023

Aku wa sonzai shinai

Directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi Visions

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi follows up his Oscar-winning film Drive My Car with a modern eco-fable that provides a gorgeous meditation on humanity’s relation to nature and an unnerving commentary on the price of progress.

Aug 08

The Civic

Aug 16

The Civic

Japan In Japanese with English subtitles
106 minutes Colour / DCP


Satoshi Takata


Ryûsuke Hamaguchi


Yoshio Kitagawa


Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Azusa Yamazaki

Production Designer

Masato Nunobe


Eiko Ishibashi


Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka, Ayaka Shibutani


Venice, Toronto, San Sebastián, New York, Vancouver, Busan, London 2024; Rotterdam 2024


Grand Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival 2023
Best Film, London Film Festival 2023


Presented in association with

Auckland Film Soc

Set in a small rural village a short drive from Tokyo, Evil Does Not Exist follows taciturn woodsman Takumi (a splendid debut by Hitoshi Omika) as he is inadvertently embroiled in plans to bring a high-end glamping retreat to the isolated idyll. Not only is the single father’s placid daily life of wood-chopping and child-rearing set to be upended, but the entire village’s delicate subsistence is threatened by this urban intrusion.  

Explored in long, languorous shots, Harasawa seems to be a town outside of time, its residents living in gentle symbiosis with their environment. But the community is thrust into a very specific present when representatives of Tokyo company Playmode arrive to fast-track a ruinous project in order to take advantage of post-pandemic government subsidies.

The film began life as a visual accompaniment to musical works by composer Eiko Ishibashi, who also worked with director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi on Drive My Car. Hamaguchi became so engaged with the themes he discovered in the musician’s work that the project evolved to a full-blown feature. But the DNA of a music-centred visual poem remains, brought to preternatural life by cinematographer Yoshio Kitagawa’s entrancing compositions.

Hamaguchi slowly steers the film away from simplistic morality tale, imbuing every character with such generous empathy that passing judgement becomes as difficult as untangling the interactions between culture and the natural world. Beautifully lensed and deliberately paced, Evil Does Not Exist starts as a gentle stroll through a world of flawed heroes, complicit victims, and vacillating villains, before pitching towards a startling crescendo. — Adrian Hatwell