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If you come to this movie expecting a Yakuza story and an orgy of violence, as in other Fukasaku's works, you may be bitterly disappointed. But perhaps you may find that Omocha has more in common with other movies of the same director than it may seem at first. Common to all his works (at least those which I know) is a an attention to the 'underdog', and this attention is confirmed by this story. There is nothing sentimental in Fukasaku's depiction of a Geisha's life: poverty and concern for her family are the reasons that bring Tokiko to submit to prostitution. But, what is more remarkable, Fukasaku explores the state of mind of someone who has no chance to win, and the ways in which she can maintain her dignity even in the most oppressive conditions. Even if the social references of the story are clear, as are the continuous reminders of the tensions often ignored in the depiction of the Japanese society, there is no attempt of making a proclamation. Whatever lesson one may learn from this movie, s/he must get it through a careful reading of details and by letting the influence of the beautiful soundtrack penetrate deeper in the mind. The women in the house share a life of danger, exploitation and marginalization, but they are not victims nor 'villains'. They are living beings who can join together in moments of celebration and have rivalries but also deep solidarity. Tokiko enters willingly into this world and her acceptance is a defiance of any moralistic judgement (like that expressed by her useless brother). She may cry contemplating the life that expects her, but her tears are passing moments. She is made of steel, and this story is also the story of the revelation of her strength, as well as of her growth from the child-like image in the opening title to the fully mature presence at the ending. There is no happy ending in this movie, as there are rarely happy endings in life. But the awareness that the main characters, especially Tokiko and the Madam, express in the crucial moments, are more worthy than any gesture of rebellion. In that awareness, they are free.
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