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Kenji is a small thief who likes drinking and fighting. When he falls in love with sweet and simple Yazue, and she finds out what kind of guy he really is, she leaves him 'until he becomes ... See full summary »
A touching melodrama about a custody battle. Yoshiko Okada plays an actress who has won fame and fortune making movies in America. She now returns to Japan hoping to reunite with her six year-old daughter, who currently believes her ex-husband's second wife (Yukiko Tsukuba) is her biological mother. The ex-husband is sent to prison for mismanaging his company's funds, and the wealthy actress has an advantage over the now destitute Tsukuba. The film initially comes off as morally simplistic - Okada is the Westernized woman who is palling around with her two criminal brothers (the younger of whom provides some entertaining comic relief, but in general they aren't very useful characters) and Tsukuba is the noble, more traditionally Japanese woman who's willing to throw herself in front of a car to save her stepdaughter - but the characterization is beautifully done. In the end, both Okada and Tsukuba come off as sympathetic. Okada is the clear MVP among the actors - her final moment in particular is incredible. The little girl is absolutely adorable. Some things could be clearer. I was never clear who exactly the guy with the beard who helps Tsukuba was supposed to be. A friend? A brother? I feel like I missed something there. The filmmaking is wonderfully dynamic - tons of pans and tracking shots and perfectly edited. This one is pretty close to great.
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