Based on the successful novel of the same name, Kokou no Mesu explores medical corruption and the politics of patient care. It’s set in 1989, a time when liver transplants from brain-dead donors were legal around the world—but not in Japan. After losing his mother following a botched diagnosis, surgeon Toma (Shinichi Tsutsumi) becomes entirely committed to helping patients. Nomoto (Katsuhisa Namase), the director of surgery at the same small hospital, shares little of this concern, and the two are forever butting heads. Kokou no Mesu draws to a climax as Toma must decide whether to perform a liver transplant on the town’s mayor. Though somewhat melodramatic, and with a highly convoluted story rife with subplots, the film has enough intensity to keep its momentum going. It’s not up to the heights of the masterpiece Sea and Poison (1985), which also portrayed ruthless doctors, but it’s nevertheless a solid effort. (125 min)
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