Ishun is a wealthy, but unsympathetic, master printer who has wrongly accused his wife and best employee of being lovers. To escape punishment, the accused run away together, but Ishun is certain to be ruined if word gets out.
To save her brother and the ancestral house from the heavy burden of an unfulfilled debt, Osan--the noble wife of the parsimonious but reputable scroll-maker, Ishun--turns to her husband's kind-hearted employee, Mohei. However, a transparent forgery paired with a preposterous accusation will force the pair to escape from the printer's unwelcome Kyoto household, seeking refuge in 17th-century Osaka's inhospitable streets. Now, amid scandalous and disquieting rumours--and constantly under threat--Mohei and Osan seem to fight a lost battle. What fate awaits the fugitives from Chikamatsu?Written by
Nothing is more unpredictable than a person's fate
Set in 17th century Japan, and based on a 1715 play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (hence the title, 'A Story From Chikamatsu'), this film starts with a rich scroll-maker (Eitarō Shindō) refusing to give his wife (Kyōko Kagawa) money. When she turns to one of his top apprentices (Kazuo Hasegawa), she sets in motion of a chain of events that ultimately have them fleeing together, because the apprentice, normally a virtuous man, intended to take the money from the scroll-maker and was caught.
The story reveals emotion and desire that is both on the surface, such as the scroll-maker sexually harassing a young servant (Yōko Minamida), as well as that which is concealed. It shows us the randomness of events which may cause everything to suddenly change in one's life; as the wife puts it at one point, "Nothing is more unpredictable than a person's fate. In just one day, all of this has happened to us." If you've ever had your life flip suddenly because of love, you'll identify.
The film also shows the all-too-common fate of women; the advice given to the young servant being harassed is to "Just take it. That's the duty of an employee." Adultery is also blamed first and foremost on the women ("It's frightening what women are capable of"), and it's ominous when a couple of adulterers are being led through the town to be crucified early on in the film.
It's a solid film throughout – the cast is strong, the story is well told, and there are some gorgeous scenes, one of which is in a bamboo forest. I don't think it's going to blow you away, but it's a good one.
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