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The Lower Depths (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 15, 2010

This kind of stage play really isn’t Kurosawa’s bag.  He’s a director who speaks largely in action and gestures.  I can’t think of any other Kurosawa film that’s even close to being as dialogue-heavy as this one.  Being bound to one set (or two and a half, if you count the brief excursions to the slum’s exterior and landlord’s house) seems to cramp his style, as does the absolute lack of scoring.  I realize this is probably a minority opinion, but I feel Dodeskaden is a much more accomplished and intriguing look at a similar situation.  However, this film certainly does have some considerable assets.  The compositions are striking as always, especially working in such a confined space.  Each character is allowed to shine… it’s nice to see that the film isn’t dominated by Mifune, as the other actors are quite good and each has a compelling role.  There’s a lot of humor, some of it excellent.  And the last 2 or 3 minutes are amazing, with that fascinating, exuberant a capella song and dance, undercut by a gutshot ending (and that darkly comic final line).  So it’s not one of his worst, but it is definitely uneven.  Rating: 7


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