The life history of a woman who faced disillusion from her husband and disappointment from her son, but lives to welcome her grandson. —British Film Institute
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
Largely told in flashbacks, this sprawling, beautifully realized drama sees both Naruse and Takamine once again at the height of their considerable powers. Besides Floating Clouds, this might be the only other Naruse film in which the war plays an integral role in shaping and defining the characters and their eventual fates. But unlike that masterpiece, the relationship at the heart of the film is between a woman and her mother-in-law who persevere through various traumatic events and personal tragedies, all handled with grace and dexterity by the master. Yet another unheralded gem in the ever-remarkable Naruse canon.