Moonlight Mask @ Montreal World Film Festival

Itsuji Itao is a well known comedian/actor in Japan with a number of film and television credits to his name. In the “focus on World Cinema” section of the Montreal World Film festival, Itao presents “Moonlight Mask,” a feature film which he directed, co-wrote and took on the lead role as well.

A World War II veteran who is still in uniform, walks the streets of Tokyo and winds up at a small local theater where the traditional art of comedic storytelling called Rakugo is taking place. The soldier feels drawn to the stage and tries to join the show but is greeted with hostility from the performers. After some scuffles and further discussions, the theater group discovers that he is Usagi, a former Rakugo performer who was very popular with audiences. The only problem is that the soldier has amnesia and has no clue of his identity.

As they try to jog his memory and make efforts to integrate him back into the world of comedic storytelling, they are shocked when another man claiming to be the real Usagi shows up. To make matters even more complicated, the two men were former comrades. So the question is, who is the real Usagi?

This was a strange film. I think the idea was a good one but the first guy to claim he is Usagi seems to have amnesia yet he keeps having flashbacks from his time spent as a soldier during the war. Maybe he is lying. That is a possibility. Then this second person shows up, claiming to be Usagi as well.

Things get even more confusing as the film continues, concluded by  a dramatic ending that also will leave you wondering, what the heck is really going on here?

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