The house is very cheap, so the two developers go in on it together. They figure they can get rid of the tenants, make some improvements and flip it for twice the sum. The trouble is that the tenants -- painter Ichirô Sugai, his wife, Chieko Higashiyama, their daughter-in-law and grandson -- their son hasn't been demobilized yet -- the tenants are too nice. So one of the developers moves in with his mistress, Kuniko Igawa. She hates it. They think she is her lover's daughter, and she has to act like a good girl. Then Sugai asks her to sit for a portrait, and she doesn't like what she sees. In the picture, she's too beautiful, and too sad and too good.
It's an atypical movie for director Keisuke Kinoshita. It's too kind. It's also an atypical movie for its screenwriter, Akira Kurosawa. He was still feuding with his home studio of Toho, and how he came to write this modern-dress comedy about women is a mystery. Or is it? Although he would become known for masculine movies, often with women as the motivating demons, he always had a streak of feminine romanticism in his work. Think of his Capraesque ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY, or the soft-hearted old lady who infuriates Toshiro Mifune in SANJURO. As for Kinoshita, he often told his movies with a woman protagonist.
It's a movie proclaiming that the artist sees things in his subject that would never occur to the casual observer, and by forcing the audience to see it, changes that audience. Miss Igawa sees the portrait. She goes through all the stages of denial: denial, bargaining, drunkenness, destruction. Will she achieve acceptance, and what that entails?
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