The Wife of Seishû Hanaoka is set in feudal Japan. Its two central characters are based on the wife and mother of Japanese physician Seishû Hanaoka (1760-1835). Hanaoka developed a herbal ... See full summary »
Yuko is sent to the coastal regions to be raised away from the rest of her sophisticated family where she finds out from her ill grandmother that she is actually the love child of her wealthy businessman father and his ex-secretary.
An astonishing film in terms of it's relentless power to both shock and move. It has a quick and melodic pace, something rather uncommon for films of the time. It gets moving straight away and sets us in a world of misplaced honor and preconceptions. Wakao is simply stunning in both her looks and talent. She plays a beaten down woman with a lot of spite, but equal amounts of heart. After the death of her sugar daddy, she returns to her home village where she is seen as tainted goods. It isn't long before a role model soldier returns to the village and, against the wishes of the townsfolk, sets his sites on the outcast. The two both seem to be rebelling against society, but also do have genuine affection for each other. It isn't something that is easy to pull off. By the time the violent third comes around it is a disturbing act of love that perfectly sums up the complex themes running around. This film is unforgettable and I would even recommend it to those that find early Asian cinema a bit slow. Hopefully, this could open some doors.
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