A few days in the life of a quiet geisha, single mother of a young, smart boy, in the lively Tokyo quarter of Ginza. A woman devoted to other people's needs, she will end by taking part ... See full summary »
What is the life of a Geisha like once her beauty has faded and she has retired? Kin has saved her money, and has become a wealthy money-lender, spending her days cold-heartedly collecting ... See full summary »
On the surface, the point here is education, which may seem a little perfunctory now anyway - the film closes with the doctor kindly advising the distraught mother to 'support and guide' her teenage daughter through the trouble of a coming pregnancy and adolescence in general. He instructs his own son to focus on studies and leave chasing skirt for later in life.
So both filmgoing parents and their kids go away with lessons in balancing emotion with duty, the old Japanese double-bind of giri/ninjo. The bulk of the film is teenagers having to cope with feelings, the first blossoms of sexuality. Once more parents get in the way.
If you like to puzzle about these things, since main plot devices here are a photobook - and suggestive photo - and a maid discovered in illicit love, you may want to imagine that Naruse's earlier Avalanche somehow ties into all this.
But the real beauty is away from any message and really the focus on a world as it reveals itself new and full of splendor, a spring morning after the rain.
It's crisp vast skies and branches of trees gently bobbing in the wind. It's poetry read out loud beneath trees, song and boyish wrestle. It's boy and girl laying down and smelling the grass before an impulsive first kiss. It's the girl so dismayed by that kiss, the sky itself is blackened and begins to rain down hard. It is all about sense and the light falling a certain way, in the sense of a deeply encountered Zen world that may be complex and difficult so far as human affairs go, but is sublime simplicity when you recognize that all of this is trivial and flies away.
By itself, this is small but graceful, an exercise in sustained mood that hopefully pays off in future Naruse projects I am going to seek.
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