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In the same category as the superb HAPPINESS FOR US ALONE, though not in the same class. Both films deal in earthy detail with lives of working (and sometime not working) poor in post WWII Tokyo, in a manner which is consistently level-headed, neither sensational or sentimental, but still managing to be engrossing entertainment, even enthralling.
And, most importantly for this reviewer, both star the luminous Hideko Takamine. This adorable and beautiful lead actress had a very busy career, and her expressive face is a joy to watch.
INAZUMA is essentially a high-quality soap opera. Told mainly from Kiyoko's (youngest daughter, aged 23) point of view, the story mainly concerns an old woman who had four offspring, each from different fathers. Nearly everyone is a highly fallible human being, and you sometimes want to grab these characters, shake them and yell "stop being so damn stupid !".
That curious old Hollywood term "woman's picture" also comes to mind, as the strongest characters are all women, as does "slice of life", because the story has no proper start and end points.
If all this makes it sound dull and lacking focus, it isn't. This is a wonderful film in every possible way. The direction and acting are first class, and the characters all too believeable and probably very much like many other people you know. In a way, comparison with HFUA is unfair, as HFUA is a strong candidate for one of the best Japanese films ever made, but INAZUMA still rates a strong mention.
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