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I recoil from most allegorical films, so it's hard to watch Hiroshi Teshigahara's heavy collaborations with writer Kobo Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu. Yet the third of their efforts (1966) is more palatable than its predecessors (Pitfall, Woman in the Dunes) because its philosophical focus and thrillerlike story overpower the allegory, allowing Teshigahara's eclectic mix of styles and forms to move beyond artiness. The embittered victim of an industrial accident (Tatsuya Nakadai), who has to hide his scarred face in bandages and has been rejected sexually by his wife (Machiko Kyo), gets fitted with a lifelike mask that encourages him to try to seduce her as a stranger. Though the story becomes almost as overloaded with ideas as Pitfall, the theme is brilliantly and imaginatively explored, and the acting is potent. In Japanese with subtitles. 124 min.

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