The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
A Wife's Heart is my long anticipated return to the films of Mikio Naruse. He's simply an incredible filmmaker that stands his ground with Ozu, Kurosawa, and Kobayashi. This film is a simple pleasure, but conveys the complications of relationships we all have. A couple, that live with the husband's mother, start to focus on turning a patch of empty land into a café. However, his brother soon turns up asking for some of the loan money as he is out of a job. The film looks at some difficult themes, such as duty to oneself rather than a family member. It's heartbreaking to see so much effort go into a dream, and then see loved ones beg for help. No one is a villain, but everyone is slightly self-centered. Whether they are unwittingly leading on another man, asking their son for too much, being a coward etc. These are everyday occurrences, but from Naruse's expert eye, they are presented with a freshness not seen these days. The climax is of a character overhearing a laugh, which in-turn makes her smile. It's these kinds of sweet, visual gestures, that make his films a pleasure to watch. Takamine gives a powerful performance. She's a woman that is beaten down by everyday life, but refuses to lash out against it. Her attraction to Mifune grows naturally, in a way even she doesn't realize.
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