I saw this film in a horrendous video dub with difficult-to-read subs so I can only recount what I could glean from it. Many of Naruse Mikio's best films were adaptations of books by his favorite author, Hayashi Fumiko ("Lightning" "Late Chrysanthemums" etc.). "A Wanderer's Notebook" (also known as "Lonely Lane" or "Her Lonely Lane") was the final Hayashi film and one of his last before his death in the mid-sixties. Taken from Hayashi's autobiography, it's the story of a cynical, hard as nails female writer living in poverty who falls in love with a real b****rd (the typical unfeeling Japanese man littered throughout Naruse's films), who she knows is a real b****rd but who she somehow cannot pull away from. Hayashi is portrayed superbly by the always amazing Takamine Hideko, who has played the role for Naruse in previous films and who has aged like fine wine. In a way "Her Lonely Lane" feels like it's as much of a swan song for Takamine as it is for Naruse. Never has she played with such restrained bitterness; it's a flawless performance. Unlike "Floating Clouds" she remains alive at the end, a successful author with a large house and a kind husband. Her meeting with a man who loved her in her youth in the garden behind her home is a truly eloquent scene: as she is speaking to him we become aware that old memories still haunt her decades after the fact, though she never says so. It is moments like these in which Naruse's pessimism becomes sublime - Hayashi is aware that her hard-won victories can't stack up against the costs, but the moment is so beautifully melancholic that it seems to transcend the past, if only for an instant.
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