Machiko Kyo returns home from Tokyo pregnant after an affair with a college student—a scandal that will threaten the marriage prospects of the younger sister in her cash-strapped family. Roughneck brother Masayuki Mori decides to take on the role of disciplinarian, with harrowing results. “Older Brother, Younger Sister presents a family trapped by its own construction, each member unable to move because of the others.” (Joseph L. Anderson and Donald Richie) —Smithsonian Institution
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
The father in this film always just seemed like an absent character. When we see him he is either drinking, sleeping or walking aimlessly around town. And when he for once is engaged in a conversation he is just feels passive. It seems like the riff between the reality of his daughters situation and his ideals of family that he grew into/and up in was just to much for him and..well..broke him in a way.
The great Japanese actors Kyô and Mori were partnered onscreen several times, most notably in Kurosawa's Rashômon and Mizoguchi's Ugetsu. In this film set in a rural community just outside Tokyo, they are under Naruse's flowing direction and portray siblings with a complex and, at times, violent relationship who clash when the sister returns to the family home after falling pregnant. Another absorbing Naruse effort..
Following "Rashomon" and "Ugetsu", Mori and Kyo are paired again, this time for Mikio Naruse, directing a sensitive drama about a close family torn apart by old fashioned ideas, and jealousy, when the middle sister comes home single, pregnant, and disgraced. Well acted all around; another emotionally poignant beauty from Naruse's greatest period.