The story is of an unemployed man in his forties, whose wife has just left him. On the advice of an old tramp, he travels to a faraway village, to a certain house, from where one can see a red bridge… In this house there is a vase containing a golden Buddha, stolen from a temple in Kyoto by this old tramp…
The man does not find the vase, but meets a woman who lives in the house. This strange, kleptomaniac woman has the power to make flowers bloom out of season, to attract fish by the water she secretes when she experiences physical pleasure; the man who “bathes” in such water will rediscover his vitality… –Cannes Film Festival
Shohei Imamura’s ribald, darkly comic films about messy human relationships and coarse, indomitable women repelled early European critics who had grown to cherish the graceful, exotic image of Japan typified by Kenji Mizoguchi films. Yet Imamura remains a critically important director, both as one of the seminal Japanese New Wave directors (along with Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda) and as a chronicler of a side of Japan rarely seen in Mizoguchi movies or tourist brochures.
Born in 1926, in Tokyo, Imamura attended the elite elementary and middle schools that normally would have aimed him toward a prestigious university degree and a comfortable career in business or government. His love of theater and loathing of bourgeois presumptions, however, steered him away from a conventional lifestyle. When he failed the entrance exam for the agriculture program at the national university in Hokkaido, he enrolled in a technical school to evade the draft. The day the Pacific War ended… read more
You can detect the old age softness and warmth which Imamura infuses into his disenchanted salaryman slate, being his very last feature too. Affable Japanese rapport with colourful characters, while washed over yet with absurdist humour, as well as some not-so-timid dashes of Oshima erotica within its peculiar romance. So rather novel, it must be said - and no more so than by film’s batty end - but indeed also a certain elegance in it all. Perhaps stretched out a tad for such slightness, but it is quite charming, and rather funny.