With the reported dissolution of J-pop institution SMAP, this film couldn’t come at a more opportune time. And it’s based on a novel by a different idol from the same agency, the legendary Johnny & Associates.

Shigeaki Kato, of the boyband NEWS, published the book on which this film is based, to much acclaim, in 2012. It’s already been adapted into manga and now gets its turn on the silver screen. Unsurprisingly, it addresses the difficulties of celebrity and the dangers that go with it.

Rengo (Yuto Nakajima) and Daiki (Masaki Suda) are childhood friends who share a love of acting. When they both become thespians, Rengo meets with huge success but Daiki toils in obscurity. Their friendship survives, but Rengo decides to take his own life and involves Daiki in the clean up. The story flashes back to how the two came to their careers and then, it turns out, Rengo’s suicide provides an opening for Daiki’s ascent.

Director Isao Yukisada (Crying Out for Love in the Center of the World) is one of the finest auteurs working in Japan, and here he weaves an intricate tale that switches perspectives—from color to black and white—and tones magnificently. Another thought-provoking and challenging work from a jewel of the current Japanese film scene. Japanese title: Pink to Gray. (118 min)