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Kiyoshi is a brooding young man who treats women solely as objects. Makoto is a young woman who is just reaching her sexual awakening. She and her friends accept car rides from middle aged men, although they state it is nothing more than fun with no intention of leading those men on. Kiyoshi and Makoto meet when he saves her from one of those middle aged men who tries to take advantage of her. Despite treating each other abusively, they start a relationship with each other which leads to what they call love, but feels more like an emotional dependence on each other to rebel against traditional society. Each with no money, they start to extort money from these middle aged men who she leads on. This act is only one demonstration of the only power they feel they have, namely sex, which they use against others as well as against each other in their doomed relationship. Written by
"Cruel story of youth" seems to me a hard movie to give any judgment about. Trying to watch at the events of the drama from the point of view of the time (historically), I see not more than a Japanese version of "lost generation" drama. The ideals of parents passed away in the recent war, the new aims were not created is it not a universal generation crises of searching your own way in life? While watching the movie, I asked myself if it is necessary to search for any hidden message of the director if there is one
The characters and events are described in a very direct, comparable to the animation speed and simplicity way (that was one of the points which I could dare to compare with the "trash-movie" stylistic). There is a lot of "beating directly into the face" full of disguise scenes (for the year 1960 the movie is full of violence and sex what I guess was pretty "fresh" and not known at that time). The message of the director was delivered in the right way, no doubt that the movie drew public attention that is the other point which I appreciate in director's work.
Now to the heroes (or anti-heroes, as I think a lot of people would tell): the main heroes of the drama present the whole collection of sins and all kinds of misbehavior. The antipathy to them is growing with every their word and step. The two try to fight the way through to the future and fail. There is no one around (false existence or practical non-existence of a good example neither in society nor in their own family) to give them the right answer on: what to do to be happy? As Kiyoshi says: "We only sell ourselves in order to go on living. No matter how I fight it, that's what the world is like." Isn't life disappointing?
Love and death are linked in quite an extravagant way in this movie, resulting in a kind of "romantic antiromantic". What is left at the end? A symptom of a lost generation's aimlessness and moral bankruptcy (and lost innocence) No doubt, "Cruel story of youth" is a very expressive movie the main topic of which could get up-to-date anytime (as it is well known that times pass men and problem stay the same).
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