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An Ichikawa film, which means that there is little plot, just vignettes for a short period of the protagonist's life.
The story revolves around an academic, of sorts. A man who is initially characterized as lazy, a man who starts many projects, but never follows them through. True, but as the film evolves, we are to learn why.
He's just never been able to achieve the goals he once set out for himself, blaming, more or less, circumstance and environment, when in fact most of the blame should lay with him.
The synopsis of this film was a bit misleading, stating that narration is done by Sampei's cat. Not true. The cat becomes a participant (unwilling and willing) in most of the story, but his narration only occurs at the film's tragic ending.
The film is dialogue heavy and most of the character participation rarely leaves Sempei's study. The characters leave and enter the scenes quickly, so figuring out who's who and who means what to whom can take a little while to figure out. Ichikawa leaves no quarter here.
But once you've got everyone figured out and the main thrust of the what's going on (which kind of revolves around the impending engagement of two minor characters), the film itself is rewarding. Again it deals with changing values, a common theme it seems in Japanese cinema.
Very good film. Very highly recommended.
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