This film highlights the quietly devastating in-between moments that account for most of the life of an aging bar hostess. Nothing particularly riveting occurs in the several days we spend with her, but that is exactly the point. It is the fate of some to be disappointed and, ultimately, to live and die in relative obscurity with only the contributions to the lives of loved ones to redeem a hopeless existence.
Seemingly divided in two halves. The first which establishes the day to day tasks of the main character while the second, which is signaled by the sudden use of music which contrasts the quiet first half, puts a twist and analyses her daily actions through the introduction of a new character. The very critical view held against males is shown to be just as true of the geishas who tell people want they want to hear.
Naruse was one of the best at explicating the thoughts and emotions of his characters with the most minute gestures and expressions, and this film is just another example of it. It's also another in the line of films about aging women at a crossroads in their lives about men and money. Those who love When a Woman Ascends the Stairs will surely like this one, as it deals with similar issues. Kinuyo Tanaka is terrific.
Most of the first half of the film is set in Naruse's favored territory: mournful little bars in Ginza struggling to stay afloat. One can almost smell the stale cigarette smoke and cheap booze in the air. All the elements are here: the bitter clawing for a few yen; the quiet desperation and drunken self-pity; the impossibility of salvation. Why is it that this director's bleak films are so often so moving?