Friday, January 10, 2014

Film on Friday #8 - The Key of Life

The eighth entry in the Film on Friday series is Key of Life from director Kenji Uchida. This Japanese film was an official selection of TIFF and over fifteen others.

Kanae (RyĆ“ko Hirosue) is a successful magazine editor. She happily announces at work one day that she is getting married - she just hasn't selected the groom yet....Kondo (Teruyuki Kagawa) is a contract killer who decides he needs to use the public bath after his latest mission - it got a bit messy....Sakurai (Masato Sakai) is a down on his luck actor at the end of his rope - literally. After a failed suicide attempt he too heads for the public baths....

.....where he steals Kondo's identity after the hitman falls and blacks out. When Kondo awakes, he has amnesia. Presented with Sakurai's papers, he assumes the actor's life. And then Kanae's path crosses with both men.

Key of Life is a comedy of errors as Sakurai slowly comes to realize that the identity he as stolen may be more than he bargained for. And Kondo, unable to remember his past life, seems quite content to pursue his acting career. Kanae seems to be falling in love with one of the men - but has no idea who he really is.

This was a fun movie to watch. There are many comical bits and the mistaken identity twist is played to the max. However there are serious bits to catch too - familial and societal expectations and the pursuit of love.

Of the three actors, I enjoyed Hirosue the most. I thought her role was well played - understated yet moving. Kagawa and Sakai essentially played two roles and two characters each. Of the two, I enjoyed Kagawa's performance more. Sakai seemed a little over the top with his exaggerated facial expressions that simply annoyed me by the end. Now, that being said, he was nominated for best actor at the Japanese Academy Awards for this role. And really, this is a Japanese comedy - everything is a little over the top - at times reminding me of a game show. (the ambulance drivers especially)

There are some fun twists in Key of Life that were unexpected and kept things interesting. And of course, there was the ending I hoped for.

Key of Life was an enjoyable film that was a breath of fresh air and a change from the heavy films I've been watching. 2012 / Japanese with English subtitles / 128 min

Film Movement always includes a short on their DVD's. This entry is "Finale" from Hungary. There is no dialogue - instead we are left to puzzle out what these well dressed men are up to - and it's not what you would expect. An excellent little short that paired well with Key of Life.


Harvee said...

I will look for this; hope I can find it at my library!

Luanne said...

Hopefully you will Harvee - it was a fun movie. I'm enjoying these film fest winners from Film Movement. My library does buy them