MESHI (Mikio Naruse, 1951)

From a novel by Fumiko Hayashi, which her death left unfinished, Meshi (Repast) revolves around Michiyo Okamoto, who after five years of marriage is profoundly dissatisfied with her life. Two years ago, Michiyo left Tokyo to settle into suburban Osaka, where her life became a daily grind of domestic chores. She and her spouse, Hatsunosuke (Ken Uehara, perfect), must make do with unflavorful cut-rate rice on his low salary at a brokerage firm, where he works honorably and intelligently, but to the point of daily exhaustion. The Okamotos’ street is charmless and threadbare, but at least Hatsu has his sometime barroom escape after work. Michiyo has not even toured Osaka yet.
     Two events—the visit of Hatsu’s flirtatious young niece, who has fled the prospect of an arranged marriage; a reunion with friends from school, her one-time compatriots in dreaming about the future—help push Michiyo’s unhappiness to a point of decision. She leaves home and returns to Tokyo, ostensibly to visit her mother and married sister; she writes Hatsu that their marriage is finished, but she cannot quite bring herself to post the letter. Michiyo is torn by contradictory impulses and life’s contradictory nature.
     Mikio Naruse’s light gray, probing yet gracious film finds Japan’s patriarchal culture unsettled by the outcome of the Second World War, which discredited the authoritarianism supporting this culture. Hatsu is no miniature tyrant; he loves his wife but presumes she should cater to his happiness. Both are uncertain pioneers at the front of Japan’s very slowly changing identity. Michiyo must somehow arrive at her own happiness.
     Setsuko Hara, as Michiyo, gives what may be her most subtly inflected performance (best actress, Blue Ribbon and Mainichi Film Concours Awards). Naruse: best film (tied with Ozu’s Early Summer), best director, Mainichi Film Concours.

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.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=16

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=19

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s