Upon attempting to release "Pale Flower," the studio's censor banned the film, and this fact says quite a bit about the temperature of Post-War Japan's pop culture, and the target audience of this film. While the director claims the film is about Japan's uncertain stance in the Cold War, it may be more accurate to say that the film is about Shinoda's Nihilistic stance towards Japan's relationship to the world's superpowers.
And while nihilism describes Shinoda, existentialism may better describe Muraki and Saeko. Gambling, animalistic sex, drugs, all in an effort to just feel something, anything, and to get lost in the moments those emotions provide. Some would say that the gambling scenes are too long and do little to advance the plot, but this movie's script is made up mostly of unspoken dialogue and it is during the gambling scenes that the main characters are developed.
While I loved 95 percent of this film's moody and atmospheric lighting, at times it's so dark you can't tell what's going on. Still, the shots are well constructed, the actors well directed, and their performances subtle yet effective. Dig the sexual tension that is constantly building between Muraki and Saeko, and how this tension is dealt with. Somehow I felt myself sympathizing with this killer in a very real way, and this says something about Shinoda's and "Pale Flowers" success.