License to Live | Chicago Reader

License to Live

A young man (Hidetoshi Nishijima) wakes from a decade-long coma, discovers that his family has dispersed, and sets out to reunite it in this moody 1999 feature. As usual, Japanese writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa uses a familiar genre—in this case, family melodrama—to reflect on will, destiny, and the futility of action. His pacing and long takes are so precisely modulated that they capture the rhythm of ordinary life in a workers' suburb of Tokyo, and while he obscures the lead characters' feelings by flooding the film with inexplicable behavior and enigmatic dialogue, his vision of man's insignificance and fate's caprice is profoundly disquieting. 109 min.

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