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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