Tashiro (Keiju Kobayashi) coincidentally meets his best friend Sugimoto (Tatsuya Mihashi) in a bar very close to the apartment in which Sugimoto’s wayward wife is found dead. Although Tashiro is not a suspect in the police investigation, he is racked with guilt and confesses to his wife, Masako (Michiyo Aratama). In an effort to further relieve his tortured sense of guilt, he then confesses to Sugimoto. Neither his wife nor his friend can believe that he could have been involved. —Catherine Russell
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
A fascinating film, that retains its power to absorb because it shows the totality of any character beyond the single act that will come to overshadow them: i.e., Tashiro isn't just a killer. Worth comparing to the single-track characterisation and theme of a film like "In The Realm Of The Senses". And to me the totality of character is what makes the random act of violence or transgression all the more shocking.
An adaptation of Lebanese-born Edward Atiyah's 1951 crime novel The Thin Line, later employed by Chabrol for his equally remarkable (and nearly as neglected) 1971 effort Just Before Nightfall. But whereas Chabrol customarily uses the central murder to aim at the façade of bourgeois respectability, Naruse's film, perhaps unwittingly, brings into question something at once more elusive and concrete: Japanese conformity, which is challenged here initially by the youth culture in the form of a modern sexualized young woman, and eventually by an ostensibly docile housewife. Featuring his stock company veteran, Kobayashi Keiju, in the lead role, this was Naruse's most exquisite foray into "noir" territory.