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Key of Life

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2012
  • 128 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ryoko Hirosue), Blue Ribbon Awards 2013
WINNER: Best Screenplay, Japan Academy Prize 2013
WINNER: Best Screenplay, Shanghai International Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2012

“Brilliant storytelling... completely original, completely compelling... an absolute delight that could not possibly come more highly recommended” - Todd Brown, TWITCHFILM

A dead-broke aspiring actor living alone in a rundown shack, Takeshi Sakurai’s growing dejection goes unnoticed by those around him. Following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he heads to the public showers to rinse off the shame of this latest failure. Occupying the neighbouring locker is Shinichiro Yamasaki, AKA Kondo, a professional hitman who’s managed to operate under the radars of both police and mafia for years, and has decided to take a relaxing shower the day after a contract’s perfect execution. While this meticulous assassin is used to having complete control over his surroundings, he can’t fight gravity as he accidentally slips on a bar of soap dropped by a clumsy Takeshi. As Kondo lies motionless on the floor, the jobless thespian uses the commotion to switch locker keys with him. It seems like the perfect plan. While Takeshi is reaping the spoils of his new luxurious lifestyle, Kondo wakes up with complete amnesia, attempting to recall a loser’s life that he’s never actually lived through. The situation, however, doesn’t stay golden for long. The failed actor begins to doubt the worth of his plan when he is approached by a gang leader in need of his homicidal services. But what if Kondo, supported by Kanae, a control freak desperately searching for a husband, should get his memory back…

Equal parts sitcom, rom-com and gangster flick, Kenji Uchida’s KEY OF LIFE is a genuine gem. Filled with deadpan humour and finely crafted dialogue, its unpredictable turns maintain its consistent dynamic. Faced with a wide range of colourful characters constantly evolving under false pretenses, Uchida had to select an almost perfect cast for the job. His success on that front is reflected in the magnificently nuanced performances of Masato Sakai (GOLDEN SLUMBER), Teruyuki Kagawa (the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy) and Ryoko Hirosue (DEPARTURES). YosiYosi Arakawa (FINE, TOTALLY FINE) can be counted on to make audiences grin with his persona-breaking portrayal. Having charmed its way across the festival circuit, this surprisingly intelligent comedy in the vein of ADRIFT IN TOKYO, SAWAKO DECIDES and CASTAWAY ON THE MOON is destined to be a definite favourite at Fantasia 2013. The key to your life is not to miss this irresistible feelgood comedy.

— Nicolas Archambault

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