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With Beauty and Sorrow (1965)
"Utsukushisa to kanashimi to" (original title)

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Long before the events of the movie Ôki, who was approaching middle age, had a relation to 16-year-old Otoko. She got pregnant, but the child was stillborn. Their relation stopped at the ... See full summary »



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Title: With Beauty and Sorrow (1965)

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Credited cast:
Kaoru Yachigusa ...
Otoko Ueno
Mariko Kaga ...
Keiko Sakami
Toshio Ôki
Kei Yamamoto ...
Taichiro Ôki
Misako Watanabe ...
Fumiko Ôki
Haruko Sugimura ...
Otoko's mother
Yoshiko Nakamura ...
Old woman in Arashiyama
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Miko Hirata
Yoshihide Sato


Long before the events of the movie Ôki, who was approaching middle age, had a relation to 16-year-old Otoko. She got pregnant, but the child was stillborn. Their relation stopped at the same time. Much later Ôki had become a famous writer, not least because of a novel about this love story. Otoko had become a famous painter. But she had never overcome the double early trauma and had become a Lesbian. Her favourite student and beloved one was the beautiful Keiko. 24 years after the early love Ôki goes from Tokyo to Kyoto to meet Otoko. The meeting is polite with secret emotional shadows. Keiko makes a plan. She intends to seduce Ôki, become pregnant, bear Ôki's child and give it to Otoko. She hopes that Otoko may thereby get rid of her trauma. But she also wants to take her revenge on the man who had harmed her beloved. Secretly she gets acquainted with Ôki's son, invites him to Kyoto and seduces him. Then she calls his parents and tells that he had promised to marry her. Horrified ... Written by Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | writer | revenge | lesbian | boating | See All (14) »


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

28 February 1965 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

L'amaro giardino di Lesbo  »

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User Reviews

An exquisite tale of emaciating for both sides vengeance
11 May 2013 | by (Poland) – See all my reviews

A middle-aged writer Toshio Ôki (Sô Yamamura) has an affair with a 16-year-old Otoko Ueno (Kaoru Yachigusa) who eventually gets pregnant. When the female learns about the fact that the man is going to leave her and return to his wife, she loses her child, after which she ceases to contact with him. Many years later, Toshio becomes a well-known writer and Otoko a famous painter. Notwithstanding, Otoko cannot forget about Toshio and their tragic romance alters her sexual orientation hence she begins to be interested in women ever since. She endeavours to obtain some consolation by falling in love with her beautiful young pupil Keiko (Mariko Kaga). The moment Toshio visits Otoko in Kyoto, Otoko gets dejected and the wounds of the past turn out to be unhealed. Keiko comes to the conclusion that there had to be something between Otoko and Toshio in the past. The instant she is sure of it, she vows revenge. She resolves to demolish Toshio's private life by seducing him and his beloved son Taichiro (Kei Yamamoto)…

To start with, With Beauty and Sadness is indubitably a very strong movie. Based on the novel of Yasunari Kawabata, the flick is a profound psychological drama which eschews being scandalous for the sake of being such and generally concentrates on exploring darker sides of human soul in a subtle manner. Masahiro Shinoda, mostly known for his excellent Kawaita hana (1964) aka Pale Flower, does comprehend what a good direction is. His aesthetic fetish for symmetry is ubiquitous and displayed in many a sequence throughout the entire ensemble which provides With Beauty and Sadness with a sterile setting, lacking love, happiness and solace. The director utilizes cold hues such as blue, dim green, grey as well as plenty of austere spaces which results in conjuring up a tangible texture consisting of bamboos, snowflakes, dark walls and barren landscapes which contextualizes with the cruel story very well and creates an inhuman, chilly and bleak climax. This autumnal scenery of Japan, nearly totally devoid of brighter colours, probably also depicts mental states of the protagonists and perfectly punctuates the inner demons of Keiko who is ruthlessly willing to destroy other man's life for her beloved female. The relationships between disparate characters are exposed very well, particularly the lesbian affair of Keiko and Otoko is extraordinarily well depicted. Emotions are incessantly existent and expressed with such a great power that it virtually feels as though hatred, anger and sorrow were flowing through the screen. The storytelling is supplied with some retrospections which recount the affair of Toshio and Otoko. The film is leisurely paced which give an opportunity to construct the tale in detail, deepen the script and render the whole concept far more abstruse and ambiguous.

Sô Yamamura is simply tremendous in his role. He plays Toshio Ôki – a cynical, cold-blooded writer who doesn't care much about his former lover and isn't consumed by remorse due to his merciless behaviour. Kaoru Yachigusa as Otoko Ueno is very convincing as a forlorn, inconsolable and traumatized female with the tragic past. She never pleads with Keiko to avenge her and the moment Keiko says about her plans, Otoko reacts with reluctance. Thus, her persona is far more complex than an average abandoned lover in search for revenge. It appears she is still in love with Toshio, even though he unabashedly took advantage of her, which enrages envious Keiko. Keiko is no less interesting forasmuch her opulent personality embellishes the murky atmosphere with her youthful vitality, sensuality and unbridled thirst of sacrificing herself with a view to punishing Toshio and provide her lover with consolation. Only the motif of Toshio's son – Taichiro – is insufficiently developed and poorly crafted, but it isn't something which could diminish the magnitude of the remainder of the flick. On account of potent cinematography by Masao Kosugi and a ghostly soundtrack by Toru Takemitsu, the film obtains horror-like, sinister relish. There likewise might be some feministic nuances included, nevertheless they are not that visible or excessively implied as none of the characters is glorified, possibly except for quasi-angelic Otoko who is destructed by her fatal memories.

Despite not implicating any spectacularly spellbinding or divine scenes, the movie remains a remarkably effective psychological drama which succeeds almost on every level. Its flaws are scarcely noticeable and the moral ambiguity as well as the cruelty surrounding the whole story adds to the zest. It's a highly rewarding cinematic experience filled with great beauty and overwhelming sadness that makes us ponder on darker impulses of human nature.

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