Senin, 23 Mei 2011

Mikio Naruse - Inazuma aka Lightning (1952)

“Inazuma” is one of the many Fumiko Hayashi’s novels adapted by Mikio Naruse to the big screen. In the lead role we have Naruse regular, the superb, graceful actress Hideko Takamine (“When a Woman Ascends the Stairs”, “Twenty-four Eyes”, “The Munakata Sisters”, etc.) as Kiyoko, the youngest of four siblings, all with different fathers. Kiyoko is a strong-minded girl who, after seeing the misfortunes of her mother and sisters, doubts that marriage really means happiness for a woman. Her elder sister, Nuiko, wants her to marry a frivolous bakery owner, Tsunakichi, which Kiyoko adamantly refuses to comply. Her second sister, Mitsuko, is a traditional woman who quietly suffers whatever lies ahead of her. She has a hard time when her husband suddenly dies, leaving behind a large sum of insurance settlement that everyone wants a share of, and an illegitimate child that her husband had with another woman. Her brother, Kasuke, is a jobless man who spends most of his time on Pachinko machines. Kiyoko wants to leave all problems behind and start a new life on her own, so she rents a flat outside, where she meets Shuzo and Tsubomi, a pair of brother/sister who lives merrily together.

“An almost perfect realization of Fumiko Hayashi's novel” (Donald Richie), Lightning is a lively family study that takes family squabbling to new heights (or perhaps new lows) in director Mikio Naruse's work. Poor, pathetic mother Ose (Kumeko Urabe) has four children, three daughters and a son, by four different men. Youngest daughter Kiyoko (Naruse favourite Hideko Takamine), a bus tour guide, is the only one of the kids with a mind to escape their sordid surroundings. Her half-siblings, for their part, are trying to marry Kiyoko off to a middle-aged baker — but only because they have designs on the man's money. When the husband of one of Kiyoko's half-sisters dies, leaving behind a large insurance settlement, the machinations over money get more complex and more sordid. "If, despite the loss and sadness in them, the worldview of [Naruse's films] isn't tragic, it's because Naruse puts so much weight on the ability of his heroines to change their minds about their problems — a gift celebrated at the tears-turning-to-laughter end of Lightning" (Chris Fujiwara, Film Comment).

no pass

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