In Yearning, war widow Reiko (Hideko Takamine) struggles to keep her provincial mom-and-pop store afloat against the advent of the supermarket. Living with her in-laws, who are chief among those trying to squeeze her out of her business, she becomes the protector of her young brother-in-law, who is given to drinking and womanizing until he astonishes her with the confession that he is in love with her. —Judy Bloch
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
Towards the end of his career Naruse directed the radiant Takamine for the penultimate time in this magnificent widescreen melodrama, one of the very best of their many collaborations. Her expressive face perfectly conveys the torment she goes through when her much younger brother-in-law confesses his love. Naruse conducts proceedings at a perfect tempo right up to the unexpected and devastating finale. Outstanding..