Why Mao Inoue is Best Actress of her generation: Compelling performance in The Snow White Murder Case!

I have a particular bias towards Mao Inoue – I just find her to be such a compelling, competent and emotional actress that I often find the time to watch her movies more than twice. Even in her previously shown asadora – Ohisama – I was compelled by her charm and finished the whole 150+ episodes in record time – something I have failed to accomplish before when watching more recent asadoras.

Recently, a new movie starring the 27-year old award-winning actress was released in Japan entitled Snow White Murder Case. While she is also the star of another movie (The Eternal Zero) which broke box office records, her role in Snow White Murder Case (Shirayuki hime satsujin jiken) has a more significant effect on her acting career. It’s supposed to be a follow-up to her award-winning role in Rebirth, and while the next Japan Academy Awards is more than a year away, there is already some indication that she might make it on the list.

Of course, winning the Best Actress for Rebirth in 2012 is not the singular acting achievement of Ms. Inoue. She is also the recipient of multiple awards for her dramas.

Back to the new film, most of the reviews have been significantly positive – with praises bestowed on the actress and the overall appeal of the movie.

Says Elizabeth Kerr @The Hollywood Reporter:

Based on the best-selling novel by Kanae Minato, whose similarly twisty Confessions was adapted into a creepy and compelling thriller in 2010 and Penance for television in 2012, Snow White packs a lot into its overstuffed frame but manages to weave a wholly contemporary mystery from ingrained concepts of female competition, the idea that the sum total of our experiences can be corrupted to fit a given narrative and, of course, that there are three sides to every story. Distributors that found success with Confessions and the recent spate of Japanese mystery adaptations (Villain, Helpless, Suspect X) will likely want to take a look at this, and the inclusion of Internet subject matter should give the film appeal across ultra-wired Asia. [ read more ]

… and on Mao Inoue:

the meek, unassuming and “plain” Miki (Inoue Mao, who is “plain” only in the movies).

Mark Schilling at the Japan Times has more words for Inoue’s performance:

At the center of this blizzard of information (including the false clues) is the enigmatic figure of Miki, an awkward and isolated woman who is rumored to possess the dark power to hex her enemies — or kill them. And yet in Inoue’s self-immolating performance, another Miki emerges, whose sweetness and naivete belie the terrible deed she is supposed to have committed. We also see a scary emotional volatility that makes the insinuations of murder somehow plausible. [ source ]


The trailer above features some dramatic scenes showing Mao Inoue at her best. This understated, yet powerful performance is what separates her from the likes of Erika Toda – overrated as a performer and even Maki Horikita who may have significantly improved her acting (probably starting with Into the White Night) while guided by competent directors but still pales in comparison to Mao.

There is a consistency in Inoue – even while performing for television, and as pointed out by the Hollywood Reporter critic, she is “plain” only in the movies.