A loser salary man escapes in alcohol causing everything around him to collapse. Kenji Katagiri’s second feature film surpasses his theatrical debut “Room Laundering” (2018).
In the middle of the chaos stands Saki, played by 22-year-old actress Honoka Matsumoto (“In This Corner of the World”, 2018). She wants to be a Manga artist and her identity crisis is portrayed with fitting speech bubbles that share her inner monologue with the audience. The sad fairy tail is comedy and drama at the same time. Narrated by Saki, the story may appear simple, but is well elaborated. Heavy subjects like alcoholism, suicide, and existential fear are presented light-hearted, but not in a naive way. Unlike Katagiri’s debut “Room Laundering” (2018), “A Life Turned Upside Down” manages to hit the right tones and keeps the balance between the mix of genres.
Besides the story elements, the stylistic approach also contributes a lot to the movie. Most striking to me was the camera movement. Long dolly cam shots and a floating camera made this film memorable. The cinematography really showed a creative concept and had innovative sequences that overshadowed the simple plot.
Kiyohiko Shibukawa (“Ichi the Killer” 2001, “Fish Story” 2009) plays the father. His character development is moving and sad. The cast is completed by Rie Tomosaka (“A Boy and His Samurai”, 2010) as the mother and Yuri Tsunematsu (“Before We Vanish”, 2017). The overall acting is solid. Kiyohiko as the alcoholic father is by far the most outstanding performance in this movie.
The script is written very well. Kenji Katagiri prooves his skills as an author. “A Life Turned Upside Down” tells the story of forgiveness and the long way to finally reach that point. And this is not only a learning process for the fictional characters in the movie, but also for the audience. The plot captures the fact that it always depends on the way you look at things. Your angle may differ from the others and your vision may be blurred by subjective factors. Without spoilers, “A Life Turned Upside Down” holds a surprise for its audience until the very end.
All I can say is that I´m very happy to see that Katagiri made this movie. It proved my first impression that I had after seeing “Room Laundering” wrong. Now I am confident that he is going in the right direction and keeps up the innovative work. Finally, “A Life Turned Upside Down” turned my opinion on him “upside-down”.