Key of Life is a screwball comedy from Japanese director Kenji Uchida. Quirky characters cross paths in this fast-paced film to hilarious effect.
Mizushima is a highly organized woman who runs her life on a very strict schedule. At a staff meeting, she announces that she will be taking time off for her wedding in December; she has not met her husband-to-be yet but she thinks that two months is enough time to find the right man and she enjoins her staff to help in her search. Sakurai is a failure. His career as an actor is in shambles and his attempt at suicide ends when he tries to hang himself from a light fixture that cannot bear his weight. Kondo is a fixer for the yakuza. Methodical and efficient, he disposes of unwanted and troublesome people. These characters meet when Kondo slips and bangs his head at a public bath house in the presence of Sakurai. Unable to resist the temptation, Sakurai filches Kondo's locker key and replaces it with his own. Kondo wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and Sakurai's identity, and Mizushima kindly helps him "home".
This set-up leads to increasingly outrageous events when Kondo's last client enlists Sakurai, whom he has mistaken for Kondo, to tie up loose ends. Meanwhile, Kondo tries to make the best of his life or, more accurately, Sakurai's life and, being more organized, he does a better job at it. Mizushima plugs away at her search for Mr. Right in an efficient and unemotional way.
The performances from the leading trio are strong. Ryoko Hirosue is sweetly naive as the efficient Mizushima. Teruyuki Kagawa plays the humble amnesiac and the ruthless fixer with equal aplomb. A veteran of Uchida's films, Masato Sakai oozes ineptitude and his exaggerated facial expressions are pure comedy. Key of Life is a fun little romp that combines broad cartoony humour with a caper element.
Key of Life
Director: Kenji Uchida
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.