Near the turbulent end of the Edo era, a man returning to Japan after exile in America searches for his wife and becomes swept up in the current of revolution in this incisive period drama from the great Shohei Imamura.
In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.
An impossible tale. Taro, an old man who dies homeless in Tokyo has told Yosuke, a weak-willed out-of-work salaryman about a golden statue that he left years ago in a house by the sea in Noto. Yosuke goes and he's captivated by Saeko, a young women who lives in the house where Taro left the statue. She has a strange affliction: water builds up in her and she can only vent it by wicked acts, such as shoplifting, or, more powerfully, through orgasm. Yosuke obliges, the water gives him life, as well as the plants and fish it reaches. Saeko feels shame, and she has a past. Taro's ghost urges Yosuke to fulfill his desires, but can the relationship survive?Written by
Imamura does here what Neil Jordan does in Crying Game; he takes two seemingly incongruous elements, fetishistic sexual obsession and contemporary socio-political malaise, and weaves them effortlessly together. Imamura's rigorously geometric framing contrasts with the feathery- light content of the tale. Having said that, there are some gritty moments here; a drowning born of insanity is rendered in stark black-and-white, and the social plight of Japan's cast-aside middle-aged salarymen is emblematically captured in Yakusho's performance. However, at heart this is a fun movie that surprises and delights. It is all about the mise-en-scene, perfectly delivered each time by Imamura and the principles. The film does flag at the end; it felt like they opted to go for melodrama purely because the allotted time was running out. The previous two acts make up for that third-act missed beat. One gripe is that the edition I bought had no Extras apart from the theatrical trailer. I would have liked a Making Of to confirm my suspicion that this film was as much fun to make as it is to watch. It must have been murder for cast and crew to keep a straight face during those venting scenes...
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