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Shû u (Sudden Rain)

Posted by martinteller on September 21, 2013

Ryôtarô (Shûji Sano) and Fumiko (Setsuko Hara) have been married for four years.  Ryôtarô works as a salesman for a cosmetics company.  He gave up dreams of being a musician, has a stomach ailment, and is facing possible unemployment in the wake of a merger.  Fumiko tries to stretch the meager household budget to provide a couple of meals a day, and gets grief from the local community because the stray dog she feeds keeps destroying things.  The couple bickers, and their arguments are only exacerbated by the arrival of a new couple (Keiju Kobayashi, Akemi Negishi) next door.  Meanwhile, Fumiko’s niece Ayako (Kyôko Kagawa) is having marital problems of her own.

This is familiar subject matter for Naruse: problems between couples, with a particular focus on economic troubles.  As is so often the case in his films, dialogue often includes the specific prices of things, the exact accounting of the financial burdens that drive couples apart.  The arguments between Ryôtarô and Fumiko go beyond that, however, with subtle digs about perceived slights and outright condemnation of each other’s character.

What makes this movie slightly unusual, though, is the use of humor.  The lighthearted feel — including the pointless squabbling of a neighborhood meeting and the running gags about the dog — might threaten to make this appear to be “minor Naruse”, if the central relationship (or indeed, all the relationships) wasn’t so troubled.  It’s a mix of comedy and cynicism that shouldn’t work, but does.  The final minute of the film encapsulates this beautifully, a wonderful visual metaphor for the battle of the sexes.

Spectacular performance by Hara as always, and the rest of the cast (many familiar faces) are all spot-on as well.  Rating: Very Good (83)


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