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 »
19yo girl loses husband in war. Bombing destroys his family's shop and the widow stays to rebuild it as the rest of the family flee and runs it for 18 years out of love for her dead husband... See full synopsis »
The businessman Ogata Shingo works with his son Shuichi, who is his secretary, and they live together in the suburb with their wives Yasuko and Kikuko respectively. Shuichi has a love ... See full summary »
Otsuta is running the geisha house Tsuta in Tokyo. Her business is heavily in debt. Her daughter Katsuyo doesn't see any future in her mothers trade in the late days of Geisha. But Otsuta ... 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
[Angrily, to her mother]
Who'd ever want to work in a bar? Drinking 'til I'm sick, being a plaything for men... I haven't enjoyed a single day since I started. Even lying here, thoughts of bills torment my dreams. I'm miserable! But how else could I send you 20,000 a month? If you can find me a better job, tell me and I'll quit!
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Finding Naruse Mikio films has been very, very tough, and after seeing this I'd say it's a tragedy. This is among the most gorgeous dramas I've seen - a brooding and dark melodrama, shot in velvety black and white, with stunning widescreen photography.
Based upon my viewing of this and one other Naruse film (to date), I'd say that Naruse's worldview is considerably more cynical than Ozu or Mizoguchi (both of whom he seems to often draw unfavorable comparisons with, from the relatively few critics to have dug into his work) - the strength of women will be taken for granted, or abused by a hostile world regardless of shrewdness, intellect or beauty, and there is a shy jaded quality to this film that gives it an engaging intensity, that while not nearly as subtle, objective or cerebral as Ozu, IS definitely more passionate. Here, and also in the earlier LATE CHRYSANTHEMUMS, Naruse's women are idealized, heroic - symbolic in a larger sense of outsiders or rebels (of any variety) in a social milieu that values discretion and certain forms of conformity above all else.
If you can find this film, I highly recommend it - more of Naruse's work should be made available outside of Japan.
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