This is a very impressive Naruse effort, its reputation somehow lost in the mix between the better-known Repast and Sound of the Mountain. As did Flowing this one completely immerses you in its subjects' lives, capturing you with the gentle but increasingly subtly erratic and ominous rhythms of drama and editing. By the end we've reached a devastating climax fulfilled by a denouement of similarly grim yet beautiful ambiguity. My favourite moment may be the broken countershot near the end, which sets up to imply a flashback only to create a forward ellipse. It caps the film wonderfully.
Machiko Kyo is superb, but Reisaburo Yamamoto and Masayuki Mori overplay without the necessary depth to offset their excess. Yoshiko Kuga has always struck me as an actress who simply reads her lines, and she's bland here as usual but it works for the character. None of this hurts the film, though.
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