As the title implies, Mariko Okada and Kiju Yoshida’s fifth collaboration is a moral furnace of a film, stoked with guilt and vengefulness. A labyrinthine exploration of the decomposition of a middle-class couple, the bewitching, fractured narrative artfully shuffles the time scheme, as the protagonist, Ritsuko (Okada, in a highly nuanced and restrained performance), stumbles out of the sluggish half-life of her sterile marriage and towards a troubled search to restore her emotional self. After giving birth to a son through artificial insemination (presented here as science fiction), she starts nourishing a forbidden but irrepressible desire for the biological father of her child. —japansociety.org
A legendary figure of the postwar Japanese cinema, Yoshishige Yoshida (b. 1933) is one of Japan’s most artistically ambitious, politically astute and influential filmmakers. Yoshida is best known for his work with the spellbinding Mariko Okada (b. 1934), one of the most beloved and celebrated actresses of her generation, and one of the great stars of the Japanese New Wave. Working together with Okada, Yoshida created an incredible body of films unparalleled for their formal sophistication, philosophical depth and sheer beauty. Underappreciated in this country, Yoshida is rightly considered in Japan and Europe, and especially France, among the preeminent masters of the modern Japanese art film.
Yoshida’s first passion, and the focus of his studies at Tokyo University, was French existential philosophy and literature, a training which deeply informs the intellectual rigor of his subsequent film work and later writing on film and art. By chance, or destiny, Yoshida was drawn into… read more