The Face of Another (I Have a Stranger's Face) (Tanin no kao) Reviews
The high-concept plot of "The Face of Another" suggests a horror film, but it's really more of a psychological think-piece. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) is a business executive whose face has been gruesomely burnt in a chemical accident. He spends his day wrapped behind bandages, bitterly loathing himself and his plight. Even his wife can't bear to be around him anymore. But Okuyama finds a doctor with a sophisticated procedure for taking a mold of another face (the two pay a random man for the privilege) and creating an undetectable, form-fitting mask.
The doctor is brimming with philosophy about the relationship between face and personality, and warns there will be emotional repercussions when Okuyama changes the interface through which he views the world and it views him. Eventually, the issue narrows to the familiar scenario of the implausibly unrecognized husband trying to seduce his wife as a "stranger" to see what happens. Somewhat disappointing.
Director Hiroshi Teshigahara ("Woman in the Dunes," "Pitfall") also makes a strange choice to add a second, sketchier story that never intersects with the first. This tale follows another person with disfiguring facial scars -- this time, a once-pretty young woman who's apparently living in some sort of asylum. The purpose of this sidelight is somewhat mysterious and unresolved, as is a peculiar subplot about a girl with a baffling fixation on yo-yos. Like with Teshigahara's other well-known films, existential issues of identity are a prime concern and the imagery has a surreal, allegorical quality that Rod Serling would have appreciated.
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]Mr. Okuyama is a successful business man with a beautiful wife and a perfect life. Unfortunately for Mr. Okuyama, he is in a horrific crash that destroys his face. As doctors work to fix his face, Mr. Okuyama struggles with insecurities about his acceptance within society. The doctor?s develop a special mask for Mr. Okuyama; however, the mask may not have arrived soon enough to save Mr. Okuyama?s sanity.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]?There are people who act like monsters, and monsters who act like people. Even monsters have their pleasures.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]Hiroshi Teshigahara, director of Rikyu, Hokusia, Tokyo 1958, and Summer Soldiers, delivers The Face of Another. The storyline for this picture is outstanding. The script was brilliant and filled with fascinating analogies. The acting was magnificent and the cast included Tatsuya Nakadai (Kagemusha, Ran, and Sanshiro Sugata) and Machiko Kyo (The Family and Black Lizard).[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]?Her face isn?t worth showing without make-up.?[/color][/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=white]The Face of Another recently aired on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). This film is a little slow and monotonous at times; however, the content is brilliant, well presented, and the script is magnificently written. The cast delivered marvelous performances, especially Tatsuya Nakadai. I strongly recommend seeing this picture. [/color][/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]?You are prodding me to cut off your hand rather than replace your finger.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=white]Grade: A-[/color][/size][/font]