One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I’m not sure if Takahisa Zeze knows this phrase but it applies to the heroes of his new film, “The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine,” an overly long, high-energy passion project that languished in development hell for nearly two decades.
As members of an actual Osaka-based anarchist group called the Guillotine Society, they are the real knife-wielding, pistol-toting, bomb-throwing deal. The time is soon after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, a disaster that caused social and economic disruptions. Led by poet, and sometimes playboy, Tetsu Nakahama (Masahiro Higashide), they are bent on revenge for the murder of charismatic anarchist leader Sakae Osugi (Toshimitsu Kokido) together with his lover and nephew at the hands of the police.
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