The Japanese seem to specialize in movies about poor families struggling to keep from sliding further into poverty. I know there must be some American movies like that (although I can't think of any right off the top of my head) but in Japan they appear to be a genre within themselves. Mikio Naruse was a mater of the genre but here we have a movie by Keisuke Kinoshita. Kinoshita was known for trying out as many genres as he could, and here it is like he decided to see if he could out-Naruse Naruse. And I have to say he does a pretty good job. The trick is to show the hardships endured by the characters without overwhelming the viewer. Kinoshita gets the tone right in his movie: there are plenty of misfortunes, but the there is never any sentimentality or pathos. I know many people would be bored stiff or depressed by a movie like this, but I find it refreshing to see a movie about real people instead of Hollywood caricatures and getting caught up in their ups and downs. Recommended for fans of old Japanese movies (particularly those made by Naruse) or anyone else interested in movies off the beaten path.
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