A grocer continues to operate her husband’s business long after he has killed himself. Her brother-in-law has been in love with her for ages. Eventually she gives in and a romance blooms until she suddenly rejects him in favor of her husband’s memory.
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A romance that eludes easy answers, "Midareru" is as much about New Japan's postwar acceptance and reaction to change (despite maintenance of traditional virtues) as it is about the micro-study. Cynically truthful as always, Naruse explores with a nonpareil quiet confidence and poetic nuance, the effect of genuine love on man and woman's respective spiritual characters within parameters of society and time.
9 - Boundless worlds of emotion and insight (both personal and cultural), contained in this tight and tiny a frame, though one no less formally spectacular for staying within its boundaries. Cogent in its sincerity, the whole thing is as much a melodrama as it is a subversion of cheap sentiment; it's a magic trick.