Martin Teller's Movie Reviews

I watch movies, I write some crap

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

Thirst for Love

Posted by martinteller on February 4, 2012

The widow Etsuko carries on a reluctant affair with her father-in-law, but secretly harbors a growing fascination with the family’s young gardener… a fascination which becomes a fevered obsession.  I’ve read a little Mishima, but I found the prose to be a little too difficult and meandering (a poor translation, perhaps).  But I’ve always found adaptations of his stories to be intriguing, even when they’re flawed.  From Ichikawa’s Enjo to Bergman’s Markisinnan de Sade to Schrader’s biopic and even his own short film Patriotism, there is always a complex, twisted psychology at work, with extreme personalities struggling with internal demons.  And Kurahara’s is the best of them all.

On the surface it has a slower, more subdued tone than Kurahara’s other films, but it’s constantly jolting you with cinematic surprises, a kind of quiet wildness suitable for Etsuko’s simmering emotions.  Gorgeous close-ups emphasizing the sensuality of both flesh and objects; delirious slow-motion sequences; still images; God’s-eye view shots; a restless, wandering camera; sudden flashes of color; a scene subtitled when the characters are too distant to overhear.  One of the problems with adapting Mishima is the vast amount of interior monologue.  Kurahara mixes it up with Etsuko’s voiceover, an omniscient narrator and occasional onscreen text.  It’s a dizzying, often breathtaking melange of technique, giving voice to Etsuko’s mad passion. 

Ruriko Asaoka turns in another stellar performance as her character tries to restrain the demons inside her, demons raging with lust, bitterness, contempt and jealousy.  The other actors are all very good as well, but it’s Asaoka who rightfully stands out.  The music by Toshiro Mayuzumi is superb as well, and there’s an incredible use of Beethoven’s Fifth during a climactic dinner scene.  Yoshio Miyajima, cinematographer on Kobayashi’s best films, does a phenomenal job, making it easily the most visually stunning of the Kurahara movies I’ve seen.

The other works in the Kurahara box were all worthwhile, and most of them quite good.  But for me, this is the crown jewel of the set.  I will definitely be seeking out more by him… and maybe taking another crack at reading some Mishima as well.  Rating: Masterpiece


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: