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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
I like the movie, but it has some drawbacks. One of the main problems with When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is having quite a few pointless or uninteresting characters and sometimes prolonging the plot to a tedious degree.
However, I'll give this movie credit for having strong performances from nearly everyone involved, especially the lovely Hideko Takamine in her leading role. Also, this is the only '60s Japanese film noir I've seen so far that has a smooth, jazzy soundtrack and Saul Bass-like opening credits. The black and white cinematography is beautiful to look at, especially the shots of Gonza at night. Despite having a slow start, it gets gradually more and more interesting as the plot unfolds and the final 10 minutes are great. It's not the best movie I've seen Takamine in, but it's overall very interesting.
So, I guess it's 8,5/10 then. I'm interested in seeing more Mikio Naruse films.
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