Tama (Mugi Kadowaki) is a student writing a philosophy thesis about ‘tailing’ a stranger to gain an insight into the meaning of life. By chance she starts following her neighbour Ishizaka (Hiroki Hasegawa), and she soon finds out his seemingly idyllic family life has a secret.
Not surprisingly she makes a hash of this tailing business, underlining the principle that being an observer has an influence on the subject and that you cannot stand outside events. When confronted by her neighbor, Tama explains that tailing him made her happy. It filled an empty space inside her that enabled her to imagine being in the shoes of a different person. Not content with Subject A, she goes on to follow Subject B, her university professor Shinohara (Lily Frankly). Here, the process of observing a subject tells a different story to what is going on in reality. This is emphasised when she sees the professor’s fiancé in a play.
Tamar, can only see things at face value and is the victim of how people present themselves in public compared to their lives behind closed doors. Taking people at face value only scratches the surface of what it means to be human. Tamar’s nosey and community-spirited neighbour sets up a CCTV camera to view the rubbish area, to see that everyone in the apartment building is recycling properly. This acts as another point of observation that, by its presence, reminds people to behave in the correct manner.
Tamar’s boyfriend Takuya (Masaki Suda), a video game producer, becomes suspicious of her strange behaviour and he takes to seeing her in a new light - the fact that they do not look at each other is highlighted by the fact they sit back-to-back working on their computers at home in the evening.
Mugi Kadowaki is excellent as the naive and watchful student who has her eyes opened about the world and her relationship with it. We all seem to live ‘double lives’ and act, as Shakespeare put it, as if ‘all the World’s a stage’. Tamar is very much in the position of our own role as a film viewer. She, like us, watches and learns and Director Kishi deftly handles the different layers of the story, probing into how we perceive existence and how we watch others.
Double Life is an intriguing look at how we see others and how this changes our perceptions and behaviour.
DOUBLE LIFE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: YOSHIYUKI KISHI / SCREENPLAY: MARIKO KOIKE, YOSHIYUKI KISHI / STARRING: MUGI KADOWAKI, HIROKI HASEGAWA, MASAKI SUDA, LILY FRANKLY / RELEASE DATE: TBA