Posted by martinteller on July 16, 2014
Don’t feel much like writing tonight, and I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway. The plot concerns an aging bar hostess named Yukiko (Kinuyo Tanaka) trying to make ends meet and support her young son Haruo (Yoshihiro Nishikubo). It’s pretty standard stuff for Naruse, and he would tackle similar subject matter much more effectively in films like Late Chrysanthemums and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Here, his restraint is too suffocating and the film feels a bit flat and lifeless. Sometimes you have to let a melodrama be melodramatic. However, Tanaka (a regular for both Naruse and Mizoguchi) is quite good, as usual. The most interesting thing about the movie is how flawed her character is. She lies to her best friend Shizue (Ranko Hanai) and her willingness to put Haruo in the care of other bar employees (or more often, let him fend for himself) makes her more complex than the usual long-suffering mother who sacrifices everything for her child.
The best section of the movie comes in the third act, when Shizue asks Yukiko to look after her “true love” (Yûji Hori) for a couple of days while she tends to a client. It’s only at this point that we get a real feel for what Yukiko has given up, the lost potential as her education and natural intelligence are wasted. Otherwise, the film is certainly competent and even mildly engaging, but too bland to be of much interest outside of diehard Naruse fanatics. Rating: Good (70)