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.
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.
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.
Women in the Mirror is the last feature film directed by Yoshishige Yoshida and also marks the 154th screen appearance of his wife Mariko Okada. The title of the movie can pretty much be applied to most Yoshida films - they usually center around women, and there are always mirrors around. This time, the usage of mirrors is less subtle than usual, given that there's a scene where an amnesiac stares at a broken mirror questioning her identity (which was shacked by the Hiroshima disaster). There are many other of Yoshida's trademarks - for example, Mariko Okada's character often carries an umbrella with her.
Obligatory comment about the visuals: this is the most "restrained" Yoshida movie. I mean, after all, it's his last, so you can expect it to be the culmination of his style. And indeed, the avant-garde, beautiful framing in this film follows the plot conventionally, instead of being a separate entity. The question is whether or not you like this approach, and even though I prefer Yoshida when at his most visually unbound, I also like Women in the Mirror's calm, assured style. I mean, this time around, there are actually establishing shots and repeated shots.
The majority of the film is color-coded. The predominant colors are grayish shades of blue, green and brown, however certain settings have their own palette, like the granddaughter's office bathed in futuristic shades of blue. One scene covers the entire indoor set in bright red (due to a sunset), while the final scene slowly fades into flashy whiteness (thus evoking the atomic bomb effects). It's a beautifully shot movie overall.
It deals with the subject of confused identity and ambiguous memories, and does a great job of sucking you into the story because of its slow, mesmerizing atmosphere and the intense musical score. The performances are also fantastic. One thing I've disliked, however, is the excessive use of exposition in dialogues, and I'm not sure what to feel about the ending. I'll have to give it one thing though - when it comes to style, this is probably the most self-assured Yoshida film.
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