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The Face of Another (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on March 1, 2013

I’m going to start this off by talking about me for a minute.  If you follow my reviews, first of all, thank you!  I’m truly honored.  Secondly, you may have noticed they’ve been trending shorter in recent weeks.  They’re starting to be more like my old reviews.  The thing is, sometimes this feels like a burden.  I feel compelled to write about everything I watch, and there are times when I really have to force myself to write something detailed and meaningful.  Of course, this makes for better reviews, but I’m not going to stress about this.  It’s just a hobby, and if I don’t feel like composing a longer review, I’m not going to.  This doesn’t mean I’m never going to put in any effort, but once in a while I’m going to allow myself to slack off a bit.  Especially for rewatches (even if my previous review wasn’t that great) and films that have already been reviewed extensively and thoroughly by others.  Teshigahara isn’t exactly a household name, but this is a Criterion release and there are a number of in-depth write-ups out there.

When I started this film up, I had it in mind as a potential top 100 candidate.  It made my top 250, and I had a really strong impression.  Now I’m a little less fond of it.  Most of the positives from my previous review still stand… it’s an intriguing premise, the surreal flourishes are a delight, the movie-within-the-movie really does add something without feeling tacked on, the score is wonderfully atmospheric.  And the cinematography is especially glorious, even rivalling Woman in the Dunes in its jarring sense of composition and attention to body parts.

But some of the negatives stood out more to me this time.  The film is a tad on the sluggish side, and it takes too long to bring the wife (Machiko Kyo, who we can always use more of) back into the picture.  And I haven’t read the novel, but it feels like a lot of it doesn’t translate well to cinema.  There’s too much talking openly about the themes, resulting in clunky, forced lines like “Are you getting used to the mask… or is the mask getting used to you?”.  This is really interesting material, but there are more interesting ways of exploring it.

I hate downgrading a film’s rating, especially for one that I still enjoy and would like more people to see.  But I gotta be true to my feelings.  Even so, it still gets a strong recommendation from me, just one with a couple of reservations.  Rating: Very Good (87)


2 Responses to “The Face of Another (rewatch)”

  1. JamDenTel said

    I really want to see this, since I liked both WOMAN IN THE DUNES and SECONDS.

  2. […] 69. The Face of Another (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara) […]

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