Shinnojo, a low level samurai, lives with his pretty, dutiful and loyal wife Kayo. He has come to find his position in a castle as a food-taster for a feudal lord to be boring and pointless, and talks about opening a kendo school open to boys of all castes where he can teach the use of the sword. Before he can act on his dream he becomes ill with a fever after tasting some sashimi made from shell fish, but an investigation reveals that the poisoning was not due to a human conspiracy, but a poor choice of food out of season. After three days he awakes but finds that the toxin from the food has blinded him. Kayo is summoned by Shinnojo's family to explain how the couple will survive. His uncle laments that he no longer knows anybody with influence in the castle, and asks Kayo if she knows of anybody. She relates how Toya Shimada, the chief duty officer in the castle and a samurai of high rank, offered to help and they tell her to act upon his offer of assistance. A message from the ...Written by
In the film it is mentioned repeatedly that the main character of Shinnojo Miura receives a yearly stipend of 30 koku. During the Edo period of Japan a koku was a unit of measure that had the equivalent of one year's worth of rice for a person (approx. 150 kg). For a samurai 30 koku was a small salary and Shinnojo was thus of a low level. Incidentally, the title character from another of Yôji Yamada's films The Twilight Samurai (2002) also receives a 30 koku stipend after having 20 koku deducted from his 50 koku salary to pay for his recently deceased wife's funeral. See more »
It is not stated why, when blinded, he could not continue with his food tasting role, for which sight is not required. See more »
A low-ranking samurai, jaded with his dull daily routine, finds himself tested to the core when his food-tasting assignment leaves him blind.
Yoji Yamada's project exploring samurai in transition expands, having had an outing in Twilight Samurai. That movie had Hiroyuki Sanada in the starring role, and the constantly under-achieving Takuya Kimura was always going to be a hard sell in this role for some. However, he stands up competently here. Shinnojo wakens blind and immediately becomes suicidal. He is granted a healthy stipend of rice from the authorities, and the slow dawning of its true price inexorably works on Shinnojo, eventually becoming too much to bear. This delicately paced transition is plotted by Kimura's expressions, from self-loathing to acceptance to vengeful warrior, with loving husband always present.
Kaori Momoi parades her usual quirky genius, but Rei Dan as loving, loyal wife Kayo is the stand-out performance here. Kayo's burden proves equal to her husband's, and Dan earns our sympathy as the compromised spouse.
The film doesn't quite achieve the delicacy and pathos of Twilight Samurai, but it does add another dimension to the humanistic portrayal of the samurai that is Yamada's trope. For that reason alone, Love and Honour is worth checking out.
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