Movie Diary 2/27/2018

faceofanotherThe Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966). This is the film Teshigahara made after his haunting international success Woman in the Dunes, which, amazingly, got him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. It’s about a man, played by Tatsuya Nakadai, whose face is completely destroyed in an industrial accident. After trying out the Claude Rains bandaged-head approach for a while, he accepts an artificial face, and ponders the possibility that his new mask may be changing his personality. In the largest narrative idea, he decides to seduce his wife with the new face, after she had recoiled from his post-accident advances. Kobo Abe’s script doesn’t always know when to cut off the discussions about how the new face will change the man, and a side story (about a young woman with a facial disfigurement) is allowed to puzzlingly play out on its parallel track. Teshigahara’s visual approach is busy and eye-filling, especially the doctor’s mod, see-through office, where technicians take pieces of artificial skin and stretch them like Silly Putty. There’s also a magnificent early scene: the hero explaining his situation, seen entirely as an X-ray, his skull chattering away like a high-tech gargoyle.