Saturday, December 01, 2012

JFF 2012: Key of Life

Key of life is an interesting character study comedy with its premise being an accidental prince and pauper type scenario; hitman and NEET end up switching lives when the hitman slips and gets knocked out at an bathhouse and the NEET steals his key. Added to the mix is a this meticulous and socially awkward editor, Mizushima Kanae played by Hirosue Ryoko.

In the beginning of the movie we see Kanae declare to her subordinates that she is planning to get married in too months and will need their help in finding a suitable husband. I've forgotten how good Hirosue Ryoko can be. Haven't seen her in movies/doramas since Villon's wife and Departures. Good acting is when you're watching a character and you can hear that character think. Hirosue Ryoko does that for the robotic Kanae.

The star of the show is definitely Kagawa Teruyuki as the hitman now believing himself to be an unemployed actor. Talk about layers in acting! This professional hitman, believing who has lost his memory believing himself to be this messy NEET and failed actor while trying to get his life up and running. Kagawa is always playing supporting characters but this time he really gets to show his acting chops.

Back to the character study comment. My favourite type of comedy is one where characters don't act like they are in a comedy. A seriousish show which is funny because people are put in absurd situations. The character study is about people pretending to be other people and by doing that actually peel off a layer of themselves. The best two scenes are when the three characters get together in a room and while the conversation is plot based, it doubles as commentary on the characters.

The one thing that fell flat for me was the ending. I can't really pinpoint why. I just had this not a generic useless guy saves the day feeling but that didn't happen and the ending was accidental. Can't really explain why I wasn't enamoured with it. Don't like the English title as well. The Japanese title Kagi no dorobo no method/Key Thief's method is a much fitting name because it has mutiple meanings in regards to the characters.

Very well written and acted comedy close in spirit to the classic Mitani Koki comedies. Can't say why I didn't like the ending but it straddles the boundary of good and must watch. I'll give it a nudge to must watch because its rare to see such well written comedies nowadays.

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