Kanichiro Yoshimura is a Samurai and Family man who can no longer support his wife and children on the the low pay he receives from his small town clan, he is forced by the love for his ... See full summary »
During a downpour, a generous ronin and his supporting wife are stranded at a country inn. The ronin comes to the attention of a lord who wants to hire him as an instructor for his men, who treat the ronin with disrespect.
An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
Seibei Iguchi, a low-ranking samurai, leads a life without glory as a bureaucrat in the mid-XIX century Japan. A widower, he has charge of two daughters (whom he adores) and a senile mother; he must therefore work in the fields and accept piecework to make ends meet. New prospects seem to open up when Tomoe, his long-time love, divorces a brutal husband. However, even as the Japanese feudal system is unraveling, Seibei remains bound by the code of honour of the samurai and by his own sense of social precedences. The consequences are cruel. Written by
Eduardo Casais <email@example.com>
I am ashamed to say that over many years of hardship with two daughters, a sick wife and an aged mother, I have lost the desire to wield a sword. A serious fight, the killing of a man, requires animal ferocity and calm disregard for one's own life. I have neither of those within me now. Perhaps in a month... alone with the beasts in the hills I could get them back. But tomorrow, I am afraid, is completely impossible.
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"Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei)" is a domestic drama and romance set in a very specific historical and cultural setting amidst civil strife, recalling "Cold Mountain."
As in much of the cross-fertilization of samurai movies and Westerns such that one can easily imagine a Westernized version, the opening situation recalls "Unforgiven," where a retired gunfighter just wants to be left alone to farm and raise his children and tries to resist pressures to stop putting his fighting skills under a literal grubby basket.
Hiroyuki Sanada gives a superbly nuanced performance as a rebel against the expectations of being the lowest of a high class in a rigidly caste society by embracing the sarcastic titular sobriquet. He is painfully reluctant that he is ever so circuitously revealed to be much more. World weary yet still proud, he gropes for words to explain to his shocked patriarch why he, as an indebted widower, prefers to come home straight from work to see his daughters grow up day by day than follow the family's dictates and anguishes to his best friend about his marriage prospects.
Gradually, surprising people around him are revealed to be as equally complex and frustrated with the roles their society insistently demands even as small step by suffocating step political and social webs inexorably ensnare them tighter and tighter. The flashes of their assertions of their individuality in unexpected moments make for quiet, gripping moments of tension and relief. As his returning childhood friend, Rie Miyazawa has a beautiful, spirited feminity that makes Sanada seem even more of a macho hunk in contrast.
A kind of Jane Austen action flick, it is the kind of movie where antagonists' stares make you hold your breath in suspense and the touch of a hand brings forth your tears.
The translator made a policy decision of just transliterating many traditional Japanese terms, from "sensei" to various styles of sword-fighting, etc. rather than try to find English equivalents. While their meaning can be pretty much inferred from context, it did help that post "Kill Bill" I've been making up for a benighted education that lacked samurai movies and Japanese history.
I found the voice-over narration by the younger daughter a bit schmaltzy and unnecessary. The closing song seemed jarringly period-inappropriate; if it wasn't a Japanese cover of Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" then it was a real close imitation with the only clue in English that it was used with permission of EMI.
This is the first of novel adapter/director Yoji Yamada's 77 films that I've seen and I certainly now want to see more.
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