When Sokichi stops providing his long-time lover Kikuyo enough money to pay for the care of their three young children, Kikuyo leaves the children with Sokichi - and his very surprised and angry wife Oume - and disappears.
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A plausible and interesting mystery from 80's Japan
I actually hadn't expected too much from this one. Suspicion (Japanese title "Giwaku") was a fairly big hit when it appeared in Japan in the early 80's, but many films do not age well. Not so this one, though--it is worth your time.
Based on a novel by the prolific Seichou Matsumoto, the story begins with a doting and well-to-do older man indulging the whims of his young (too young), pretty wife as they tour a seaside village. At dusk on that same day, however, their car suddenly races towards and then off the pier, astounding several passers-by. The young wife, Kumako, emerges from the water and makes her way to the shore; her husband Fukutaro Shirakawa does not come up. Suspicion builds that Kumako has killed hubby in a thinly disguised attempt to claim the absurdly high insurance on same, amounting to over 300 million yen. The bereaved Shirakawa family is convinced that the gold-digger wife is a scheming murderer; the police are coming around to their point of view.
Enter Ritsuko Sahara, hotshot lawyer, a woman who has been highly successful in a man's world--such was (and largely still is) the Japan of this period. She reluctantly agrees to defend Kumako, but the two are oil and water, dogs and monkeys, to use a Japanese idiom: they spend as much time crossing swords with each other as trying to beat the murder rap.
Pretty fine entertainment, and it plays fair. Hints are provided, and an observant viewer might be able to guess the denouement. And the fireworks between the two female leads are also entertaining, if a bit overplayed, especially at the end.
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