Hiroshi Teshigahara’s dissection of identity in The Face of Another is a creepy and compelling psychological thriller that follows a disfigured man who grows detached from himself when given a chance at a new persona. Much of the film is densely layered with blatant symbolism and imagery that is appropriately direct and forthright; using these intentionally obvious pictures of duality in framing and narrative to unmask the constantly hidden protagonist’s diminishing sense of self and swelling insecurities as the distance between his external and internal worlds drift further apart.
A businessman facially scarred in a laboratory explosion receives treatment from a psychiatrist, and obtains an amazingly life-like mask from the doctor. Soon after being fitted for the mask, he attempts to seduce his wife and succeeds. But his wife claims she was aware all along who he was and believed that both were just masquerading together as men and women do in different ways. Strangely enough, his personality seemingly begins to change after he puts on the mask as if the mask has influenced his personality. His new identity does not enable him to reintegrate into society after all.
An ode to the fake is long overdue, which is why Kriterion’s Modern Classics films in June will celebrate the copy, the false, the imitation pretending to be the real thing. Every Monday and Friday we will screen different imposters and their dogma: Fake It Till You Make It. Click here for the full program.