I will admit, Toru Matsuura’s Synesthesia has a really cool premise: A serial killer afflicted with synesthesia – a disorder that scrambles/rewires the human body’s five senses – is leaving mysterious markings in blood at the scenes of his crimes. The police are totally baffled (naturally), and the only way they can crack the code is to get into think the same way he thinks. The last victim’s adopted daughter Mari runs away and is found by two men who make a living selling hidden footage from cameras they plant around the city. Coincidentally, one of these voyeur men, named Shin, is a fellow synesthesia sufferer. Shin can see a meaning to the killer’s methods, and even though he doesn’t understand why, he wants to meet him – a man he’s labeled as “Picasso”.
But what happens when Picasso comes looking for him?
As it turns out, Picasso wants Mari; every family that has adopted her has eventually turned up dead in some gruesome way, and leaves her with a fat bank account. If that isn’t a dead giveaway of the plot, I don’t know what is. Nonetheless, Shin and his friend Takashi must now take it upon themselves to be her protectors, especially now that Takashi has a crush on her and is developing a knight-in-shining-armor complex. At the moment, I’m trying to find a word to describe how I feel about it.
Shin pulls out on hero duty, opting to try to make a family with the girl he discovers is now pregnant with his child. Anyone with a normally functioning brain can see that leaving Takashi to watch Mari is like letting a mentally ill person watch another mentally ill person: It can’t end well, which is obvious when Takashi and Mari are tracked down by a demented Yakuza. Mari and Takashi kill him, and then Takashi is killed by a mysterious off-screen assailant while Picasso is taunting Shin online… really? Doesn’t that just hurt the pacing a plot of the film when someone other than the killer is doing the killing? This all plays out to me as a series of bumbling mistakes from a killer who just comes off as a weirdo with no real motive, police who always seem to be in the wrong place when major events are happening, and a hero who realizes that he’s the hero about an hour too late into the film.
Let’s face it: letting Shin and his friend Takashi “find” Mari near the beginning of this movie just makes everything too suspicious. What are the odds that Shin suffers from not only the same disorder as our killer, but that their sensory misfires are identical? That was when I checked out of the movie, my brain continually screaming “implausible!”, not to mention that the dialog is just south of horrible.
I already knew it was a bad movie, but the finale is where I started to get annoyed. Listening to Picasso talk about why he is the way his is? Boring. I couldn’t care less about the reveal when everything else doesn’t make sense; that would be like ignoring the elephant in the room. Too much of an already thin story has been given away during the length of Synesthesia; for them to throw that cheesy, flower-and-rain-filled ending at me to make it all seem emotional was nothing short of insulting.
But don’t let me tell you what to do. Check it out, by all means, if you feel like being enraged.