A social experiment gone terribly wrong. After a man’s face becomes marred from an explosion, he looks to a doctor specified in body molding to make him a mask. What comes subsequently, however, is a progressive modification of this individual’s persona and a sequence of audacious events that interrogate the construct of human independence. It’s an identity crisis if I’d ever seen one.
From the anatomical-inspired set-designs, to the seemingly endless backgrounding, to the eerie yet credible costume/makeup designs, to the batty camera zooms, to the object + freeze-framing, to the subtle score, to the foul audio sampling… Hell! What isn’t aesthetically masterful when it comes to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face of Another?
There is a mouthful of conversations that can arise from this overlooked motion picture, but two principal ones specifically come to mind: does appearance coordinate with personality in a social environment or can someone’s soul permanently latch with another’s instinct? On paper, it seems like a simple understanding, but in The Face of Another, it’s a rotten amplification of reality. The film may beg more questions than it does answers, but philosophy, in many ways, has always stood as a form of provocative commentary.
The side plot involving the girl with the burn-scar deserved more sequential screen-time and details, though. Or, at least, a more dilated resolution to the central narrative that it, for the most part, succeeded in paralleling. Just saying.
“The Face of Another” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.