DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
FACE OF ANOTHER, THE (TANIN NO KAO) (director: Hiroshi Teshigahara; screenwriter: from the novel by Kobo Abe/Kobo Abe; cinematographer: Hiroshi  Segawa; editor: Sugihara Yoshi; music: Toru Takemitsu; cast: Tatsuya Nakadai (Mr Okuyama), Mikijiro Hira (Dr Hori), Machiko Kyo (Mrs Okuyama), Miki Irie (Girl with Scar), Etsuko Ichihara (Yoko), Kyoko Koshida (Nurse), Eiji Okada (The Boss), Eiko Muramatsu (Secretary), Minoru Chiaki (Superintendent), Kakuya Saeki (Brother of Girl with Scar); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hiroshi Teshigahara; Eureka Video; 1966-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)

"Asks probing questions about one's identity."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara ("Woman in the Dunes"/"Summer Soldiers"/"Pitfall") directs this black-and-white static but at times brilliant allegorical Eyes without a Face (1959) type of horror film. It's written by playwright/novelist Kobo Abe and is based on his 1962 novel.

The face of scientist Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) was disfigured in a lab explosion, and he's now covered in bandages. Relations become strained with his beautiful wife (Machiko Kyo), who refuses to have sex with him because of his appearance though professing to still deeply care for him. His plastic surgeon, Dr Hori (Mikijiro Hira), talks him into getting the lifelike mask of a handsome stranger. This gives him a reason to return to society and once again confront his old acquaintances. Disguised as the bearded stranger, Okuyama easily seduces his wife and then becomes irate at her adultery. 

The unusual artistic pic is a morbid psychological character story, one that asks probing questions about one's identity and the influence one's looks has on how one behaves, and serves as a study on losing one's identity over not having a face. It's a haunting film, with surprising chills. It also has a parallel story of a beautiful half-Japanese woman (Miki Irie) with a scar on the left side of her face, who is in love with her brother (Kakuya Saeki) and is estranged from society. Again pointing out how an ugly appearance can make one alienated.

REVIEWED ON 7/19/2012       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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