Naruse was already aware that he was dying when he made this deeply moving drama about a young woman haunted by her husband’s death in a car accident. She at first refuses to forgive the driver of the car, who approaches her in sincere contrition. After the two meet again by chance in Hokkaido, a fated bond slowly grows between them, although the past continues to cast its long shadow. Phillip Lopate called this “one of [Naruse’s] strangest and strongest. It is eerie to see how well his style worked inside the mode of the late sixties; how curiously modernist it looks in CinemaScope, with its cool, restrained colors and spare compositions; how suitable his theme was to the age of alienation, though it is only Naruse’s old song: that people keep scheming to get a little of what they want in a world designed for unhappiness.” —BAM/PFA
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 master tells us goodbye by resurrecting Yearning's Koji only to have him fall for Reiko's troubled younger sister. And art becomes reality. A reality where missing your bus, sick and caught in the rain, becomes a small celebration, as it means one more frivolous hour with her...
Naruse's last film, an elegant, depressing romance between a widow and the remorseful driver who accidentally killed her husband. As with Naruse's best films, which this is one, the conventions of society, economy, modesty, and tradition act as barriers to any kind of long term happiness. With a sweeping, typically lovely score by Toru Takemitsu.