Film Review | Key of Life (Kagi-dorobô no mesoddo) by Kenji Uchida

key of life dvd coverI had been waiting for months for this DVD to be released in the US after having seen it in the line up from the 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival. Key of Life is a Japanese film that focuses on two men who essentially trade lives. Sakai‘s character is down and out living alone with no money and unable to find acting work. After a failed suicide attempt, he heads to the public bath where he witnesses an accident. A rich hitman (Kagawa) slips and hits his head which lands him in the hospital with amnesia. Sakai assumes the hitman’s identity and Kagawa gives his hand at acting while he tries to regain his memory. A relationship with a magazine editor (Hirosue) ensues and ultimately propels him back on track as Sakai gets in over his head crime-wise.

It was refreshing to see Teruyuki Kagawa in a more serious role than in Tokyo Sonata. He performed solidly as both the dangerous fix-it man and the struggling actor. Sakai and Hirosue seemed to be a bit flatter, but this may just be in comparison. The film itself was entertaining and easy to follow. Dialogue kept the film flowing and the plot was not overly obvious. It showed various settings in Yokohama and glimpses into otherwise unfilmed areas. Look for Key of Life at your local library or watch the streaming version online from Film Movement.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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