In Okayama in the mid-1930s, Kiroku attends high school and boards with a Catholic family whose daughter, Michiko, captures his heart. He must, however, hide his ardor and other aspects of ... See full summary »
Amorality in Japan. Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor's mistress, works at his mill as World War II rages, and has a daughter. After an affair with a mill supervisor, Tome goes to Tokyo to seek her fortune. She leaves the child, Nobuko, in Chuji's care. Tome's a maid at a brothel, learns trade from the madam, enjoys the protection of a businessman whose mistress she becomes, and is soon herself the boss. As Chuji ages and Nobuko grows up with her own ideas, can Tome's self-preserving schemes provide continued comfort? Or will the mice scamper over her? Written by
THE INSECT WOMAN is essentially a rags-to-riches-to-rags story told in fragmentary style against a backdrop of significant historical events of 20th Century Japan. The film's title (it also goes by the more clinical name of ENTOMOLOGICAL CHRONICLES OF JAPAN!) remains obscure, however, unless the director wants to assimilate Japanese women to hard-working (i.e. slave-like) insects. Indeed, leading lady Sachiko Hidari (an excellent, award-winning performance) slowly rises from the position of simple prostitute in an exclusive brothel to that of - the equivalent of a Queen Bee, one assumes - madam of said establishment (eventually being replaced by her own daughter!). There is also a subtle hint of incest here, with the woman's father showing an unhealthy interest in her growing up - an affection which is then transferred to the daughter, once she leaves the country for the big city! Another interesting, if entirely gratuitous, touch is the director's idiosyncratic (since it is heavily featured in all 3 of his early films I've watched) use of freeze-framing as a means of transition from one scene to the next.
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