License to Live /Ningen Gokaku (1999)
Hidetoshi Nishimura: Yutaka Yoshii
Shun Sugata:Shin-ichiro Yoshii
Kumiko Aso:Chizuru Yoshii
Koji Yakusho: Fujimori
Sho Aikawa: Kasaki
Yoriko Douguchi: Miki, singer
Akira Otaka: Garbage man
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Scenario: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Running time: 109 min.
Release date: January 23, 1999
This is Koji Yakusho's second film with Kiyoshi Kurosawa. His first work with Kurosawa was
"Cure" (1997). In this film, he is co-starring as Fujimori. However, his acting never fails to strike us
Yutaka Yoshii (Nishijima) awakes from a ten-year coma in a hospital room. He is now 24 years old.
It is not his family members, but a rather a mysterious middle-aged person named Fujimori (Koji
Yakuso) who actually comes to collect Yutaka in hospital. Yutaka's family now don't live at their
home any more: only Fujimori, who is a university- days friend of Yutaka's father's lives at the
Yoshiis' house. He is using the large garden to dispose of industrial waste illegally: he also runs a
fishing pond shop in the garden. Yutaka's parents got divorced some time before and nobody
knows where they are now. Yutaka's sister, Chizuru, has also gone somewhere.
Yutaka's new life trying to catch up with the up-to-date situation starts with Fujimori's
help. Fujimori regards himself not as Yutaka's surrogate father but as his friend.
In due course, Fujimori disappears and Yutaka's father, mother and his sister come back home one
by one, instead. It seems that they have regained their old family life, but they soon get apart.
Yutaka determines to open a farm for ponies. His family used to run a farm in the old days.
However, his farm ends up getting destroyed by the jealous man who hit Yutaka
in his car when he was 14 years old. He cannot congratulate on Yutaka's success; he says with anger
that he has lost his ordinary life, money and fame after the accident.
Fujimori returns with massive load of industrial waste in his van. He encourages Yutaka to
leave the house to go on a trip with the pony Yutaka has kept. The pony is reluctant in
getting on the van. Yutaka goes to pick up a pair of gloves at the other side of the garden, when a
huge fridge falls down the pile of waste. He tries to stop it but gets crushed beneath it.
This is the conversation between Fujimori and Yutaka at his last moment:
Yutaka: Ah, Mr Fujimori.
Yutaka: Is this a dream?
Fujimori: No, it's not a dream. All is true.
Yutaka: I see.
Yutaka: Have I existed? Have I really existed?
Fujimori: Sure. You certainly have existed.
After Yutaka's funeral, Fujimori finds a
postcard of New York City among his
belongings, which was given to Yutaka
by a singer-girl in a club. Her dream was
to sing in New York City. Yutaka liked
Updated on December 18, 08
The DVD for "License to Live" will be reissued on
Fenruary 27, 2009. It has English subtitles!