Life: Untitled (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

A young escort is disillusion by life and her work, bringing the viewer into the life of an escort agency and its members, working escorts, drivers, bosses, clients, et al…

In this film written and directed by Kana Yamada, the stories of sex workers and others in their industry interconnect as they pass through a common place, their agency. The stories told and the personalities involved show the human side of such work as well as the struggles and joys of those who find themselves in the field. There is a lot here to be looked into and the characters are all so very human. The humanization of such work is something that is greatly needed across the world and this film does more for it than other films where things are glamorized and sugar-coated. Life: Untitled is a view on sex work and sex workers that is honest and doesn’t shy away from all that it entails.

The cast is talented and just the right amount of gloomy at times. It’s not all gloom and doom thankfully, but as the story seems to show a bit of everything including hope, their performances are on point. The main characters are acted beautifully by Denden, Reiko Kataoka, Yuri Tsunematsu, Kokoro Morita, and Aimi Satsukawa. Their work here takes the characters and gives them life in a way that makes them very much human. The performances sell the film and the characters in a way that makes watching their story something the viewer can’t stop or look away from. It’s not all “happy happy joy joy” but it’s not gloom all the time thanks to these performances filled with subtle nuances and small details.

The cinematography by Maki Ito with the editing by Yuichi Iwakari give the film a particular look that fits everything going on as well as the mood of the leads, there is a bit of a gloom and darkness in the proceeding and in the film’s look that make it a coherent piece of cinema. The style used and the colors and tones are perfect for the story at hand.

Life: Untitled is a film that is a must see, but that must be seen in the right mood or frame of mind. It’s not an uplifting story, but it’s so very real. The performances are fantastic and on point while the look of the film conveys its mood and the feelings of the characters perfectly.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.