GFF 2023: A Man

You'll find yourself thinking about Kei Ishikawa’s slow-burn detective film A Man long after the credits roll

Film Review by Ross McIndoe | 07 Mar 2023
  • A Man
Film title: A Man
Director: Kei Ishikawa
Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sakura Ando, Masataka Kubota

Kei Ishikawa’s A Man is a slow-burning detective tale that asks the age-old question, what’s in a name?

When Rei’s (Sakura Ando) husband Daisuke (Masataka Kubota) dies in a tragic accident, she learns that the man she loved was not who he claimed to be. The case is taken up by a kind-hearted lawyer named Akira Kido (Satoshi Tsumabuki) and he soon discovers that Daisuke is not the only one operating under a false name.

There’s a confidence to the way in which A Man's narrative patiently unspools, grounding us in Rei and Daisuke’s quiet, comfortable family life before turning it on its head. Kido himself doesn’t even step into the story until a good half hour has gone past, but from then on, he provides a quietly magnetic presence for the film to revolve around.

But the closer Kido gets to the truth about Daisuke, the blurrier the whole idea of identity seems to become. Markers like national identities, family names and even criminal records suddenly prove to be much more changeable than they first appeared. As a third-generation immigrant, Kido himself is Japanese until the people around him decide that he isn’t – a bitingly relevant aspect of identity which is cleverly weaved into A Man's tale.

Digging into much deeper questions than the one Kido is hired to answer, A Man is the sort of philosophical thriller that you’ll find lurking in the back of your mind long after the case has been closed.

A Man had its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival