Late in the 1500s, an aging tea master teaches the way of tea to a headstrong Shogun. Through force of will and courageous fighting, Hideyoshi becomes Japan’s most powerful warlord, unifying the country.
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The Japanese tea ceremony, calligraphy and Ikebana are all embodiments of Zen Buddhism, much like Teshigahara's beautiful, piercing film. Were it not for Yamazaki's cartoonish portrayal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, this would be perfection. "Rikyu" deserves the Criterion treatment -- even the sub-standard transfer I saw couldn't diminish the aesthetic elegance found in every frame.
Some dodgy performances aside, this is a poetic, elegant, sumptuous, rich, textured and beautiful work from Teshigahara. The storytelling isn't great at times, but Rikyu is a fascinating film nonetheless.