Hideko Takamine plays a young woman trying to raise enough money to open her own coffee shop; when her family takes the money to fund her sister’s wedding, she arranges a loan, but her husband grows jealous of the loan officer. Featuring Toshiro Mifune in his second and last role in a Naruse film, A Wife’s Heart shows the family system to be so rigid that there can be no variation. —Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Mikio Naruse is one of the least known of Japan’s early master directors, both in the West and in Japan, yet he created some of the most moving, darkly beautiful works in Japanese cinema. Like Kenji Mizoguchi, Naruse showed an uncanny understanding for the psychology of women. Like Yasujiro Ozu, he preferred subtle shifts of character over broad strokes of plot. Unlike either of these early greats, however, Naruse’s vision of humanity was much darker and more clinical. He stripped all vestiges of hope or acceptance from his films, what remains is only a willful struggle to endure. His relentlessly negative view of human existence has resulted in Naruse’s often being labeled a nihilist.
Born in Tokyo, in 1905, Naruse was the youngest of three sons of a desperately poor embroiderer. Although he excelled in elementary school, his family could not afford to further his education. He was instead enrolled in a two-year technical school. There, he spent virtually all of his free time… read more
Family financial and emotion troubles mounting within a household, with Hideko Takamine (dealing with a cheating husband) who falls for a handsome banker, Toshiro Mifune. The film is so beautifully peaceful, despite the anguish, and finds an impending emotional resolve in a sequence inside a tea rooms in the rain with Takamine, and Mifune realising their love, which you know will never happen. A sad and lovely film.