One of Mikio Naruse’s most realistic and piercing works, and one that is intermittently beautifully Ozuvian, Midareru examines the unraveling of a family whose old-fashioned market cannot compete with the new supermarket across the street—an impersonal corporate-owned consumer playground that can offer identical items at a much lower price. Japan’s new killer competitive spirit is a darkening cloud on the horizon traceable to the war, defeat, and the U.S. occupation. It is the national zombie returned from the dead.
Hideko Takamine (best actress, Locarno) plays Reiko Morita, who as a teen bride lost her husband to the war and, when the town, including the family store, was burned to the ground in that war, Reiko elected to stay and help her mother-in-law by rebuilding the market; it was also a way of remaining faithful to her fallen spouse. When confronted with the accusation that she has wasted her life in this endeavor, she offers a firm and stirring rebuttal: “I didn’t waste my life. I lived it.” At the same time, she enforced family harmony.
Now, two things threaten to bring the war’s impact to domestic fruition: family members are plotting to remove Reiko from all participation in the new market they secretly plan to erect once (in a mimicry of the Allied destruction of the original market) they raze the current family market; many years her junior, her brother-in-law, Koji, has declared his love for Reiko, testing her capacity to keep faith with the dead.
Naruse originated the Ibsenian story, which Zenzo Matsuyama transformed into a fascinating script, which Naruse transformed into a thoughtful, engrossing work of art.
Brace yourself: the precise action is punctuated by the tragedy of two suicides. The war is an unstoppable train that keeps delivering fresh baskets of heartache.
B(U)Y THE BOOK
MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.