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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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..
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.