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The Lady of Musashino

Posted by martinteller on June 20, 2013

During the war, Michiko (Kinuyo Tanaka) and her husband Akiyama (Masayuki Mori) are bombed out of the home and move in with Michiko’s parents in the countryside town of Musashino.  Michiko’s mother succumbs to an illness and her father follows soon after.  The father, who never liked or trusted Akiyama, wills the house and land to Michiko.  This makes Akiyama resentful, and he starts making advances towards the neighbor Tomiko (Yukiko Todoroki), whose husband Ono (Minako Nakamura) is Michiko’s cousin.  Meanwhile, another cousin, Tsutomu (Akihiko Katayama) returns from the war.  He is starting to pick up bad habits, so Michiko takes him into her home and keeps him busy tutoring Tomiko’s daughter in English.  Tsutomu develops a crush on Michiko.  Tomiko tries to seduce Tsutoma.  Akiyama continues to press Tomiko into an affair.  And Michiko struggles to maintain her moral integrity.

There are some lovely moments in this film, with Mizoguchi’s usual graceful camerawork.  The framing is expressive, emphasizing character dynamics and there are some of his usual elaborate tracking shots.  Tanaka is wonderful as always, and although most of the other performances are rather routine, Todoroki makes for a good femme fatale.  But Mizoguchi gets a bit too moralistic in this one, and employs an especially heavy hand in the film’s climax.  It seems a rather conservative viewpoint overall, without much room for grey area.  Big bad city values are taking over quaint old country values.  Also, the score is a touch overbearing.

Good craftsmanship, but the script is a letdown.  Rating: Fair (67)


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