This is the story of class barriers more than anything else. When the shacks next to a comfortable neighborhood are burned down, a young husband and wife discover that one of the victims was once a university student with the husband but has been living in poverty with a blind orphan and a dog.
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Like Antonioni and Pasolini in their early films, the impulses of neo-realism fan out across the reconstructed classes of a defeated nation, their rarefaction shedding narrative coherency... the modern begins here, in the scarred psyche of the wife, the indifference of the husband, the loss of a center in the rest.
Can't help but think that while the wife was quite naive, she was the only one who looked past her own sheltered world. Everyone else was indifferent and ambivalent. Her altruism may be rooted in her own self-journey, but I underneath it all, she also genuinely cared.
This movie confirms my suspicion that Susumu Hani was the warmest and most humane of the Japanese New Wave filmmakers. His background in documentary makes this film a satisfying hybrid of fiction and reality. And Sachiko Hidari is sublime.