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There is no such thing as evil (2023) The ending of the film explained and themes analyzed: what happens at the end of the film?

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Ryusuke Hamaguchi is a Japanese filmmaker with years of experience. With films such as ‘Happy Hours’ and ‘Asako I & II’ he became popular among film lovers all over the world. ‘Drive My Car’ gave him a well-deserved success in the US, where the film was also nominated for a number of Oscars. Most of his work is dialogue-driven and explores the intimacies of the human mind. His latest venture, “Evil Does Not Exist” (2023, original title: Aku wa sonzai shinai), takes a more stripped-down, primarily observational approach to storytelling. This winner of the Silver Lion and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival is a rollicking reflection on relevant themes.

Spoilers ahead

There is no such thing as evil (2023) Plot summary and movie synopsis:

What is ‘There is no such thing as evil’ about?

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ follows the residents of a Japanese village, whose lives are threatened by a commercial project planned around the place where they live. Through various characters, the film paints a multi-faceted portrait of the project’s possible impact on the lives of the local population. As he does this, he speaks to the pervasive issues of society as a whole.

What happens in ‘There is no such thing as evil’?

“Evil Does Not Exist” is loosely divided into a number of segments, which mainly explore the lives of the residents of a Japanese village near Tokyo. The locals live a peaceful life far away from a world full of industrialization. We meet Takumi (Hitoshi Omika), a single father who lives with his young daughter Hana (Ryo Nishikawa). Takumi spends his time chopping wood and fetching water from a stream. The only source of disturbance in their lives seems to be the shooting of deer nearby.

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After working for Kazuo, Takami goes to pick up his daughter from school. He discovers that she has already left and finds her on the way. In the forest she tries to identify the trees around her. Takami shows her the signs of the deer’s presence in the forest and the places they usually visit. In the evening he goes to dinner with some local residents to discuss an upcoming meeting about a new ‘glamping’ project in their residential area. Some executives came up with this proposal and decided to act on it as quickly as possible.

The Glamping Project

The executives of a Tokyo entertainment agency come to Mizubiki with a glamping project proposal. They want to offer city dwellers a cozy place to escape to nature. A young local resident, Tatsu, believes the agency is targeting pandemic subsidies to start a new business. Later, Takanashi (Hazuki Kikuchi) and Mayuzumi (Hiroyuki Miura) from the entertainment agency hold a meeting with the locals and show their commercial presentation. Their primary purpose for this meeting is purely technical: to claim that they have met with the villagers. However, locals find many problems with the proposed plan.

Why do the villagers object to the glamping project?

Kazuo notices a problem with the septic tank, which cannot accommodate all the people staying there. Takami objects to the location of the septic tank, which will affect their source of clean water and their agriculture. Minemura, a chef who moved to Mizubiki specifically because of the distinct taste of the city’s water, objects to the proposal. She notes how the locals embraced her presence even though she was an outsider. Takami shares a similar sentiment, as his ancestors were also settlers on that land. He argues for the need for balance between people and natural habitat.

During the glamping project meeting, Takanashi only acts as a mouthpiece for his agency’s superiors and shows no initiative to help the locals. It angers Tatsu, who wonders why the high-ups aren’t present at the meeting despite being the decision makers. Takanashi tries to justify the merits of the project as a source of income. A local population objects to the idea of ​​bonfires because their village is prone to major fires. Tatsu thinks the agency is rushing the project because they will soon meet their grant deadline.

What does the agency do after their meeting with the villagers?

Evil Does Not Exist (2023) The ending of the film explained and themes analyzed
Evil Does Not Exist (2023) The ending of the film explained and themes analyzed A still from “Evil does not exist” (2023)

Takami tells the agency executives to come back with an update on their doubts. Mayor Suraga concludes the meeting by saying that those at the top must act responsibly to prevent their actions from affecting those below them. Back in town, Takanashi and Mayuzumi discuss the villagers’ objections with their higher-ups. Instead of taking a constructive step to ensure a healthy balance, this superior executive decides to put a spin on things that is positive for him. He decides to divide and conquer the locals, while getting Takami on their side by paying him a salary as the manager of their glamping.

Mayuzumi tries to convince him of this approach, which is not only unethical but could also backfire on them. However, the higher-ups do not heed her concerns. They send Takanashi and Mayuzumi back to the site. Along the way, Mayuzumi reveals that she worked in the catering industry. So Takanashi says she shouldn’t work in a company like theirs, where money is more important than morals or compassion. He then reflects on the fact that effort does not often result in the reward you would expect. It reflects his disdain for the bureaucratic nature of his work, which also kept him away from a stable relationship.

Evil Does Not Exist (2023) Movie ending explained:

Takanashi and Mayuzumi return to Mizubiki village to meet Takumi. Takanashi offers him a job as a caretaker at their glamping site. Takumi says he doesn’t need money if they’re trying to buy his loyalty. Then Mayuzumi asks him to be their advisor to get to know the place like a native would. Suddenly, Takanashi claims that he wants to renounce his current life and move to their area. Takumi shares another concern: the deer pass through the glamping grounds. So it can influence the visitors and vice versa.

Immediately afterwards, Takanashi and Mayuzumi join Takami to get water from the creek. On the way, Takanashi tells Takami to return to Tokyo alone while he stays behind. Suddenly they hear a shot. Takami says someone might be hunting deer. He drives to his daughter’s school and realizes that she has already left for home. Takami follows their usual route, but cannot find her. So he goes looking for her, and Takanashi joins him. Early the next morning, Takami finds Hana on an empty land next to a wounded deer. As Takanashi goes to save her, Takami stops and strangles him.

What happens at the end of ‘Evil Does Not Exist’?

As Mark Kermode said in his review, viewers will most likely discuss the ending of this film not just to know what it means, but to know what really happened. Well, in the end we see Takami and Takanashi find Hana next to a shot deer. Takami stops Takanashi from approaching her and strangles him. The next moment, there is no deer left except Hana, who lies unconscious in the grass. As Takami carries her back through the forest, Takanashi struggles to walk back. Eventually he relapses and probably dies. Throughout the film we witness an underlying theme about the residents versus outsiders and the balance needed to make coexistence work.

People moved into this natural habitat that mainly belonged to wild animals. In addition to the predatory hunt, the deer had to deal with the threat of gunfire. The ending of the film thus reflects a combination of responses to change where the benefit or lack thereof is up for debate. Whether it’s Takami, the executives, Hana, or a deer, they’re all reacting to the change that they sense is likely impeding their life flow. Takami (or the locals) react to the arrival of apathetic executives, while young Hana reacts to her mother’s absence. While Takanashi’s death may seem like a perfect ending to a revenge story, the film doesn’t seem interested in something as simple as that.

Evil Doesn’t Exist (2023) Film Themes Analyzed

Locals versus outsiders

Takami, who also sees himself as a settler in the village, advocates a healthy balance between residents and outsiders. However, greedy or bureaucratic executives see opportunities for profit even at the cost of disrupting the livelihoods of local people on the land they plan to use/occupy. This can affect the things that make up this natural habitat. The film thus inadvertently sheds light on the need for nature conservation.

Capitalist greed

The Tokyo-based executives see an opportunity to make money as post-pandemic subsidies are distributed. They decide to take advantage of it and go ahead with their plans without considering any other opinion or feedback. Although they project themselves as saviors, their words and actions reflect their greedy mentality. They try to justify their profession by using the communication tools or strategies they know. Yet they undermine the people they seek to exploit.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Read more: There is no such thing as evil (2023) Film review: Balance is the key


There is no such thing as evil (2023) Movie links: IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
The Cast of Evil Does Not Exist (2023) Film: Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka, Ayaka Shibutani, Hazuki Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Miura
There is no such thing as evil (2023) Film genre: Drama | Running time: 106 minutes
Where can you watch Evil Does Not Exist?