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Face (2000)
"Kao" (original title)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  12 August 2000 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 291 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 8 critic

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Title: Face (2000)

Face (2000) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Credited cast:
Naomi Fujiyama ...
Masako Yoshimura
Etsushi Toyokawa ...
Hiroyuki Nakagami
Michiyo Ôkusu ...
Ritsuko Nakagami
Riho Makise ...
Yukari Yoshimura
Jun Kunimura ...
Kenta Kariyama
Kanzaburô Nakamura ...
Toshirô Yamamoto (as Kankurô Nakamura)
Misako Watanabe ...
Mrs Yoshimura
Ittoku Kishibe ...
Eiichi Hanada
Kôichi Satô ...
Akira Ikeda
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ai Saotome ...
Sakiko Kariyama
Hajime Tsukumo ...
Train Conductor
Shungiku Uchida ...
Coffee Shop Woman


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Release Date:

12 August 2000 (Japan)  »

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Face  »

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User Reviews

Iron Lady
8 May 2014 | by (NY) – See all my reviews

I am not sure whether the great Japanese new wave director Imamura Shôhei ever got to see this independent film, or even heard about it, but it is safe to say that he would have been amused if he did. Directed by the prolific and versatile Sakamoto Junji, a one-time assistant to Ishii Sôgo who burst onto the scene the same year as the now highly regarded Kitano Takeshi and Tsukamoto Shin'ya, Face (Kao) has as its protagonist the kind of woman who would have felt at home with Imamura. If her almost terrifying innocence and social awkwardness, not to mention her body type, bring to mind Harukawa Masumi's Sadako from Intentions of Murder (1964), then the ruthlessness she projects under duress recalls the likes of Hidari Sachiko's Tomé from The Insect Woman (1963) and Watanabe Misako's Shima from Endless Desire (1958). (Watanabe, incidentally, has a brief role here as the mother of this character.) And she is as enigmatic and indomitable as any of them.

After committing a heinous crime, which eventually ends up having a liberating effect on this previously withdrawn, miserable individual, Masako embarks on a darkly comedic journey across provincial Japan, finding a way to avoid the law both through sheer luck (her mildly retarded demeanor turns out to be helpful) and, to her own surprise, personal resourcefulness. During this ordeal, she manages to fulfill her dreams of learning how to ride a bicycle and how to swim, both of which turn out to be helpful in her flight. Like Imamura, Sakamoto neither judges nor makes a victim of her, choosing instead to simply observe this fascinating creature, brilliantly essayed by theatre actor Fujiyama Naomi. Though the plotting at times leaves something to be desired, the various episodes add up to a pretty accurate depiction of contemporary Japanese society, where social exclusion and gender inequality remain prominent issues. But above all, Face is one of the more remarkable and complex portraits of a woman Japanese cinema has produced in recent years.

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