Ryoichi and Chikako are brother and sister. They live together. Chikako works during the day in a office and at night she prostitutes herself to fund her brother studies in univesity. ... See full summary »
Ryoichi and Chikako are brother and sister. They live together. Chikako works during the day in a office and at night she prostitutes herself to fund her brother studies in univesity. Ryoichi doesn't know about his sister's secret life but he is dating Harue whose brother is a policeman. Written by
There were tremendously interesting things afoot in the early days of Japanese film, as I've been recently finding out, all pertaining to some appropriation of perspective from the West. Teinosuke Kinugasa was the pioneer, early on, situating us inside the fractured mind as explored at the time in Paris and Moscow. Another Ozu before this, more mellow than Kinugasa, just as modern, moving in the tracks set down by Josef Sternberg. Jirokichi the Rat above all, peeling most shrewdly an idealized image to reveal a world only illuminated by a transient moon.
So there were all these things going on at the time, new things, challenging, a matter of taking risks with images. They demanded we train our eyes to see in novel ways. This is not among them.
It is a kammerspiel, as was called in Germany some ten years before, a chamber drama about a brother and sister in the lower reaches of society. The brother is studying hard, presumably to be able to lift himself out from his traditional attire and into a modern suit and hat, like the journalists finally surveying their home, but this effort is only possible because his sister is working nights at a club.
We are led to the shocking revelation through a seamless edit from an Ernst Lubitsch film the characters are watching in a movie theater. It's a moment that shines cinematically.
Since money is at the heart of this, beyond the tribute of admiration, it's telling why the Paramount extravaganza was used: the plot is about a dying billionaire who decides, right in the middle of the Depression, to randomly give million dollar checks to strangers picked through the phone book.
So we may be inclined to read from that point the whole thing as some deliberately histrionic hallucination on a big screen, and attach metaphysical connotations on both ends of the despondent relationship, but then it would be the mid-50's and we'd be writing for Cahiers. Still, it's a charming implication.
It is not a bad film overall, by any means, and was probably received well at the time, reflecting some contemporary social struggle into a modern world. But does it matter in the long run, that is to say would I advise you to take time out of your life to watch it? No, but you may as well for reasons mentioned above.
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