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
Mother, how many times must I tell you? Kimonos aren't a luxury for me!
I know: it's business!
That's right! Looking good means good customers. In the Ginza, appearance is everything. You wouldn't understand. I'm actually quite frugal. Flashy kimonos would get more attention, but I can't wear them in the daytime, so I buy plain ones instead. You have no right to call me extravagant!
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Having watched and enjoyed Mikio Naruse's LATE CHRYSANTHEMUMS, I was hoping WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS would be of a similar quality. Looks-wise it is, but unfortunately the story in in this one is lacking, failing to present any truly sympathetic characters and instead making the film often dull and a chore to sit through.
The problem here lies with the protagonist, who just doesn't seem to be a very interesting character. Yes, her struggles in a male-dominated society have the potential to be interesting, but the film seems to constantly skip drama in favour of presenting humdrum, everyday-life style scenes. Certainly there was nothing here to grip or interest the viewer as in Naruse's earlier film.
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