Death Note

Death Note ★★★½

The whitewashing is real, and though Death Note comments on the phenomenon it seemingly embraces, it's unclear how much of this commentary is intentional - unlike, say, Ghost in the Shell, which actively but half-assedly tries to explain its casting, Death Note's racial tensions are arguably more effective but less purposeful. Check out the annoying white teens building their murderous empire out of a delusional victim complex (cough cough Taylor Swift) and being pursued by a misunderstood, often hooded black man.

That titular pursuer is one of the biggest saving graces of this adaptation, as Lakeith Stanfield grounds his anime energy and mannerisms with true panic and melancholy, turning a caricature into a real human being.

Adam Wingard's direction, however, does the opposite to the film - and this is for the better. The script is a rushed mess, clearly stuffing innumerable stories and complex motivations into a 111 minute movie and trying desperately (and failing miserably) to maintain any sense of reality to make it believable. But Wingard knows this shit doesn't have to be believable, it has to be fun, and he brings his hyper-pop-addled sensibilities to the party to burn it to the ground. His camera is wild, the colours pop, the tone veering from straight melodrama to dark thriller to comedy-horror from one scene to the next without ever feeling incoherent. Wingard doesn't give a flying fuck if this feels real as long as it feels BIG and EXCITING - and so he'll play "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" in the climactic scene, because, though the characters are probably too young to know that one, it's totally the type of thing that a melodramatic teen would playlist to a loved one's death. Plus, it's fucking funny.

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