Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s' students researching Osugi's theories.
A spontaneous romance blooms between Kawamura, a professor touring Europe, and Naoko, a married woman living in Paris, scarred by the Nagasaki atomic bombings. The two protagonists travel around Europe trying to find themselves.
An engineer's wife returns home with a lost teenager. A man posing as her dad tries to get her back, causing the engineer to recall his youth as a revolutionary, obscured by dreamlike disruptions of time and space, fantasy and reality.
Simply a MASTERPIECE! One of the greatest movies I've ever seen!
Affair in the Snow (the original title Juhyo no yoromeki translates to something like "The Staggering of/Among Rime" according to Google Translate's usual antics) is the 5th out of six anti-melodramas director Yoshishige Yoshida made in the '60s, in cooperation with his wife, gorgeous actress Mariko Okada. I haven't seen all of them yet (why oh why are they so obscure), but it'll be really hard to top this movie.
Affair in the Snow is basically a love story of a woman torn between her current lover, who's all for rough sex, and her past lover, who's impotent and had a platonic affair with her years ago. The storyline in itself isn't that interesting on the surface, but what Yoshida does with it is absolutely amazing.
It flows and feels like no other romance film, even compared to other anti-melodramas from the same director. The characters aren't spontaneous or relatable in the conventional meaning - their interactions are cold and abstract, and the snowy backgrounds that surround them are basically reflections of themselves. The narrative is for the majority of the film very restrained and timid; it doesn't shift, erupt, change or focus on large disruptions between character interactions. Instead it doesn't seem like it's building up at all (though the ending certainly is a culmination of the previous affairs), no, it stays in its consistent slow, chilly rhythm, which speeds up a bit only during the love-making scenes, which are usually accompanied by an outside snowstorm. The snowy, passive setting and the film's narrative are one.
But one thing I just can't praise enough in this movie is its atmosphere. The film transfixes you in the very first five seconds and doesn't let go up until the ending. The three main characters are often the only ones around, with an occasional appearance of other human beings to remind you that the film is indeed set on planet Earth. The overwhelming feeling of coldness, melancholia, alienation and isolation really gets in your bones. This feeling is also boosted by the fantastic soundtrack. The main theme is very, very memorable. It's smooth, catchy and fitting to the film. It repeats throughout the picture and I never get bored of it, I really love it. I frequently find myself humming it and it's the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of this movie.
The visual approach is absolutely outstanding. The marvelous chiaroscuro photography is obviously the first thing that springs to mind. Yoshida created unforgettable shots out of very simple and minimalistic locations and the film constantly shifts between images of small, claustrophobic rooms and giant, vast snowy areas. Characters are often pushed on the side of the screen and rarely in the center, both in the narrow locations and in the colossal natural environments where they seem almost insignificant. The first half is set in a chilly, wintery place, while the second takes place on a mountain resort. As already mentioned, he cold setting and an isolated feel and location add to the film's theme of coldness and mistrust of social interactions. Characters are often seen through reflected surfaces, in true Yoshida fashion. Another of his trademarks are the precise movements of the actors, which work really well in the context of the film.
Affair in the Snow is my favorite Yoshida film and one of my top 10 favorites in general. It also has one of my favorite movie soundtracks, some of my favorite movie shots and overall one of my favorite visual looks from any B&W movie. Of course, it also has one of my favorite movie atmospheres. So, yeah. Nothing to add to that.
God, it's so good!
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