Renowned comedy director Miki Satoshi’s 2012 film It’s Me, It’s Me’ had its World Premiere at the 15th edition of the Udine Far East Film Festival on the Opening Night. Satoshi experiments with a different tone to his usual comedic outings with this darker, and at times, somber film which offers a bizarre premise.

J-pop heartthrob Kamenashi Kazuya has the unenviable task of playing over twenty roles in the film, albeit variant clones of lead character Hitoshi.  What starts as an opportunist phone scam when Hitoshi steals a mobile phone from a fellow diner in a fast food restaurant turns into a schizophrenic crisis of identity, as he is confronted with over twenty different versions of himself as they try to figure out which one is the ‘real me’.

This outlandish initial premise is playfully executed; Satoshi makes good use of his multiple clones for comedic effect, as the doppelgangers riff on each other’s character traits. The split-screen is executed with style: with intricate set ups and seamless transitions, it is easy to forget that the characters interacting with each other are all played by the same actor.

Kazuya acquits himself admirably in the comedy stakes, pulling off the twenty different versions of the same character, which range from a career woman, a policeman and onto a nerdy and awkward high school student.

It has been noted that Satoshi takes inspiration from Monty Python films, and although subtle, these similarities are noticeable in his previous films work, and It’s Me, It’s Me’ is no exception.  At times, the humour is almost slapstick, focusing on the peculiar behavior of the eclectic mix of characters, with another hilarious star turn from Satoshi’s wife Fuse Eri.

However, ‘It’s Me, It’s Me’ takes a somewhat surprising turn, moving into an altogether darker and introspective area, far removed from the knock-about comedy exchanges of the films opening first half.

The film quickly becomes unsettling and disturbing as the clones begin to question their identity(es), the very nature of their existence, and embark upon a process of ‘deletion’, a veritable Hitoshi genocide, as they hunt and kill one another in search of the ‘original’ Hitoshi. Suitably, the laughs are dispensed with as the film offers a study into the nature of being, of subjectivity, and ultimately what we consider ‘individuality’.

Renowned as a comedy specialist, Miki Satoshi has taken quite a gamble with his latest film, a marked departure from the style and tone that has marked his films to date. Although the abrupt shift of tone in ‘It’s Me, It’s Me’ may not be to everybody’s taste,  Satoshi has produced a film which is undeniably unique.

Review by Natasha Harmer