Stranger of Mine (Unmei janai hito) (2005)




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Writer/director Kenji Uchida makes his feature debut with the temporally tricky romantic comedy A Stranger of Mine. Reika Kirishima stars as Maki, a forlorn young woman who has just broken up with her fiancé and has no place to live. Sitting alone with her luggage at a restaurant, she's determined never to trust anyone again. "I have to go on living alone," she tells herself. Just then, a gentleman at the next table, Kanda (Sô Yamanaka), invites her to join him and his friend, Miyata (Yasuhi Nakamura), for dinner. Kanda is a private investigator. Miyata is a shy office worker whose girlfriend, Ayumi (Yuka Itaya), left him shortly after they moved into the expensive apartment he bought for them. The confident Kanda is trying to help his friend develop some kind of social life. After inviting Maki to sit with them, he excuses himself to use the bathroom and never returns. Despite a few awkward moments, Miyata and Maki develop a rapport, and when Miyata learns that Maki is essentially homeless, he invites her to stay in his spare bedroom. Uchida keeps returning to the beginning of the story, each time telling it from a different point-of-view. The tale turns out to be far more complex than it initially seems, involving a con artist, a yakuza boss (Kisuke Yamashita), and a briefcase not quite full of stolen loot. A Stranger of Mine shared the SACD Screenwriting Award and the Young Critics Award at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2006 New York Asian Film Festival, presented by Subway Cinema. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi


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