In 17th century Kyoto, Osan is married to Ishun, a wealthy miserly scroll-maker. When Osan is falsely accused of having an affair with the best worker, Mohei, the pair flee the city and ... See full summary »
This is the story of Mama, a.k.a. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. The life of a bar hostess is examined as well as the way in which the system traps and sometimes kills those in it. Written by
While "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" may lack the excitement of many Japanese films, I really enjoyed it and felt it rather profound...as well as profoundly sad. It's the story of a woman, Mama, who has worked as a hostess in a Ginza bar for some time and she longs to leave the life. After all, her job is to be nice to men who come to the bar and get them to drink as well as get them to buy her drinks. It isn't much of a life and the long hours and drinking take their toll. However, despite hating the life, she also tries to uphold her standards and, unlike some hostesses, she doesn't sleep with her clients. But there are many pressures to do so--especially since the job really doesn't pay well. Plus, sleeping with one of these men might enable her to have enough money to buy a place of her own and have a bit of security. But, for every step forward she takes, there is yet another setback. Can she somehow forge a better life for herself before it is too late? While a film about quiet desperation is probably NOT everyone's cup of tea, the film was written, acted and directed exceptionally well. It de-glamorizes these women and helps create a sense of empathy for them--particularly Mama, who the audience can't help but like. Well done.
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