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Another masterpiece by an unsung master
kerpan22 May 2003
"Yama no oto" is, in essence, the story of the love between a daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara) and the father (So Yamamura) of her neglectful and selfish husband (Ken Uehara). As Yamamura becomes more and more aware of the unhappiness of Hara, he takes ever more unconventional steps to try to rescue his son's marriage (for instance, approaching his son's mistress). Though the issues of infidelity, abortion and divorce swirl through this film, the tone is remarkably low-key and unmelodramatic. The cinematography here is similar to that found in Ozu's films of this period, though not so rigorous. The performances of Hara and Yamamura are superb. A very well-done and moving film by Japan's greatest neglected master.
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GyatsoLa2 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The amazing thing about Japanese movies of this period is that a film maker of Naruse's quality can be considered 'minor' in the sense of being outside the 'big three'. This wonderful movie shows why this is so unfair. Not that Ozu or Kurosawa, who were big fans of Naruse would agree. He was a masterful director, capable of beautifully composed scenes with flowing, skillful editing.

The story is straightforward - A older man and his daughter in law forge a bond as he tries in futile manner to make up for his sons neglect of his wife.

This movie is easy to dismiss as superior soap opera, but is really much more than this. Its an astonishingly rich, detailed dissection of a family under strain. Setsuko Hara is superb at playing a charming, loving wife who suppresses her deep resentment at her mistreatment by her husband. She and her father in law have a bond - but it is increasingly apparent that neither are totally innocent - there is an element of passive aggressiveness in both the lead characters that gradually leads to greater sympathy to the bad boy husband and the other superficially less sympathetic characters. One of the joys of this movie is how even the minor characters are so complex and well rendered - the sparky grandmother, the outspoken, resentful daughter, the secretary used as a go-between.

In so many ways - the production values, the acting, the thematic richness, this movie is head and shoulders over other produced anywhere in the world at this time. Naruse's movies were emotionally so much more complex and layered than almost anything made at the time. It may be a family drama made over 50 years ago but its still fascinating and entertaining and moving.
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crossbow010619 July 2008
This film tackles a subject that even today is controversial: Choice. Kikuko (the utterly amazing Setsuko Hara) is locked into a loveless marriage with her husband. They live with his parents, and it is particularly her father in law Shingo (Su Yamamura, who also is excellent) that she is closest to. Kikuko is a veritable maid, but mostly doesn't complain, while her husband is having an affair. You want Kikuko to confront him, but she doesn't. Then (this is where it gets controversial) Kikuko finds out she is pregnant, doesn't tell anyone and gets an abortion! Her reason is that its not the time to have a child, since her relationship is in flux. In the movie "Juno", Ellen Page brings the baby to term. The brilliance of this film is its unflinching subject and how its handled, with dignity, sadness and relief. If this film were released today, especially in the United States, you'd have so many interest groups up in arms about it. That its handled like this, with you deciding what to feel rather than having your feelings be dictated to you, makes this a masterpiece. In every review I've written in which she has been an actress I've praised Setsuko Hara. She is beautiful (especially when she smiles), but its really about the seemingly effortless way she portrays all types of women, strong, weak, resilient, unable to cope etc. She is one of the greatest actresses to have ever graced the screen and her portrayal is phenomenal as the under appreciated wife who makes a choice based on her circumstances. Director Mikio Naruse has always considered this one of his best films, and it is. Even if you're passionate about the "life" issue, see this film. I can't say enough about the acting of Ms. Hara in this film. The film is essential viewing.
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sharptongue15 December 2001
I admit it. I'm a sucker for this type of movie. Old black-and-white film, well-acted and scripted, whether Japanese or American, and I'm lost.

Even better, this one has some top-notch dialogue. The scene where the father confronts the brassy mistress of his son has dialogue worthy of more than one Hollywood greats.

This film is a terrific high-class soap opera which brutally examines fracturing personal relationships in one family in post-war Japan. The previous reviewer implies that this is not among this director's great work. All I can say is, if this is a middling effort, then I for one have much movie-viewing pleasure ahead.

Highly recommended.
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Forbidden Love
claudio_carvalho15 April 2014
The businessman Ogata Shingo (Sô Yamamura) works with his son Shuichi (Ken Uehara), who is his secretary, and they live together in the suburb with their wives Yasuko (Teruko Nagaoka) and Kikuko (Setsuko Hara) respectively. Shuichi has a love affair and has a loveless marriage with Kikuko. Yasuko has dedicated her entire life to her family but Shingo married her only because her older sister had died. Kikuko is the pride and joy of Shingo and they are close to each other.

Out of the blue, Shingo and Yasuko's daughter Fusako (Chieko Nakakita) leaves her husband and arrives at Shingo's home with her two children. Shingo investigates and finds the address of Shuichi's lover. Meanwhile Kikuko goes to the hospital and Shingo learns that she was pregnant but decided to abort her child.

"Yama no oto" is a movie about forbidden love based on the novel of Yasumari Kawabata and directed by Mikio Naruse that uses the favorite theme of Ozu – the family drama - and similar locations. The story is based on the patriarch Shingo, a man that has married his wife without loving her but also respected her along their lives. He feels a forbidden love with his sister-in-law Kikuko, a woman that is apparently submissive working as a servant at home, but strong enough to abort her child to avoid keeping her loveless marriage with her husband. Fusako is Shingo's estranged daughter that is also strong enough to leave her husband and move with her children to her parents' home. This women behavior is unusual in Japanese movies from these years. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "O Som da Montanha" ("The Sound of the Mountain")
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We Become Too Soon Old and Too Late Smart
boblipton19 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
So Yamamura is the grieving observer of the failure of his children's marriages. His daughter has left her husband and brought home two children; and his son is cheating on Setsuko Hara with a mistress and a girl friend. He comes to realize that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Mikio Naruse is sometimes viewed as a backup to Ozu. It is true they had much the same career path, becoming directors in the late silent era, directing a wide variety of movies in the 1930s , but becoming known for women's movies in the 1950s. However, while Ozu's movies documented endurance, Naruse was more concerned with the tragedy of failure, its roots and effects. His camera work is less stylized -- or perhaps, to my eye, more western. In the face of a changing Japan, his characters do not apologize and endure; they weep and change.

What makes this movie particularly telling is that the characters at the heart of this tragedy -- the son and daughter-in-law -- are not the focus of this movie. It's Yamamura who is the movie's focus and he who learns he is the cause of the tragedy. In the end, we are offered hope for the children; they will live and perhaps be happy again; for Yamamura there is nothing but exile from life.
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I'm just missing too much subtext
cherold13 April 2017
There are some foreign films so steeped in their culture that as an American who knows the world only through movies, I find myself thoroughly puzzles. Sound of the Mountain is one of those movies.

The story is simple enough. A man bonds with his daughter-in-law, and is upset by the way she's treated by his odious son.

But constantly through the movie I felt like I was just missing something. Someone makes a comment and then the woman turns her head in a way to suggest something significant has happened. The man spends time talking about when someone mispronounces a word and I can't figure out why that's interesting.

I can see there is a concept of proper behavior but I can't quite find its outlines. A lot is left unsaid and I'm not sure what is meant.

I just felt kind of lost.

It's not a problem I have with all Japanese movies. I love Kurosawa, after all.

I'm not giving this a star rating because I don't feel qualified to judge this movie. It is well filmed and looks very nice, the acting is quite good, and the final scene is lovely and touching, yet I did not, for the most part, enjoy it, and if I were to give a star rating based on my subjective experience I would give it a 6 at best.
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Chronic Parenting.
net_orders13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
SOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN / SOUNDS FROM THE MOUNTAIN (YAMA NO OTO). Viewed on Streaming. Production design = six (6) stars; subtitles = six (6) stars; music = three (3) stars; cinematography and lighting = two (2) stars; restoration/preservation = two (2) stars. Director Mikio Naruse provides a slice-of-life shomin-geki (home drama) statement on the status of post-war contemporary married life. The Director's assessment is far from optimistic. Aging parents (who have their own lingering marital difficulties) are saddled with the marriage problems of aging children who either refuse to leave home or keep moving back in. There is a son (a philander with a mistress following in his father's footsteps) and his wife (who is little more than a child-like housemaid) in residence and a daughter (with two kids, one a baby) who keeps leaving her husband and turning up. This goes on to the point where the parents decide to leave home themselves (and move back to the country) to escape this mess (most of which seems to stem from inadequate past/present parenting and being poor roll models). Thrown into the pot are the emotional impacts of abortions, a " jimusho-geki" (office drama) as a subplot--the father and son work in adjourning bank offices with "office flowers"--and the sub-rosa lechery of the father's extended parenting of his daughter in-law. Naruse's pace is plodding and often close to boring. His many nuances are hard to capture in subtitles plus the Kansai-ben dialect used for line deliveries may be a challenge for the viewer. The Director's actresses and actors turn in mostly solid (if unexceptional) performances (but one child actress steals every scene she is in!) except for his star Setsuko Hara. Hara's delivery is disappointing and ranges from embarrassingly phony child-like sugar sweet to overly stoic. Sadly her makeup and lighting are far from flattering and a major distraction. Interior and exterior sets may look familiar, since they are been used in many Toho productions. Music is mostly continuous and continuingly boring. Subtitles try their best given the circumstances (see above). Cinematography (narrow-screen format, grey and white) is nothing great. It seems unable to clearly photograph objects against bright backgrounds like the sky. Lighting continuity between shots is terrible. It looks like it was ignored on the set and during editing. Interior scenes can be as foggy as exterior ones (the latter with real fog)! Restoration/preservation is okay for audio, but inadequate for video (see above). In case you were wondering if the film's title was picked out of a hat (since it is meaningless!), the script was apparently derived from a contemporary book and the same name was used to piggyback on the popularity of the novel. Mildly entertaining melodrama. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
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