Mikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse – Nasanunaka AKA No Blood Relation (1932)

Quote:
In No Blood Relation, a gripping early example of Mikio Naruse’s cinematic boldness, featuring a screenplay by Ozu’s famed collaborator Kogo Noda, an actress returns to Tokyo after a successful stint in Hollywood to reclaim—with the help of her gangster brother—the daughter she abandoned years before. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Uwasa no musume aka The Girl in the Rumor (1935)

Quote:
A story of two sisters, the older being more traditional, the younger a “moga” (“modern girl”). Their widowed father runs the family sake shop — but is running into financial trouble (causing him to make some bad decisions). Meanwhile, his long-time mistress’s little business is also on the rocks. Amidst this, the older sister is introduced to a well-off suitor (a university boy who is much more intrigued by the less traditional “little sister”). Add a dotty grandfather, an officious uncle and busy body neighbors. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Onna no naka ni iru tanin AKA The Stranger Within a Woman (1966)

Synopsis:
Tashiro (Keiju Kobayashi) coincidentally meets his best friend Sugimoto (Tatsuya Mihashi) in a bar very close to the apartment in which Sugimoto’s wayward wife is found dead. Although Tashiro is not a suspect in the police investigation, he is racked with guilt and confesses to his wife, Masako (Michiyo Aratama). In an effort to further relieve his tortured sense of guilt, he then confesses to Sugimoto. Neither his wife nor his friend can believe that he could have been involved. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Midaregumo AKA Scattered Clouds AKA Two in the Shadow (1967)

Synopsis:
A husband and wife’s love for each other and plans for the future are shattered when the man dies in a car accident. Misery is compounded when the man’s parents disinherit his now widow and their former daughter-in-law. In the meanwhile, the chauffeur who accidentally killed a man is racked with guilt. In the melee, the driver and the widow begin to develop feelings for another. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Yama no oto AKA Sound of the Mountain (1954)

Synopsis:
Sound of the Mountain is the story of the love between a daughter-in-law Kikuko (Setsuko Hara) and the father Shingo (So Yamamura) of her neglectful and selfish husband (Ken Uehara). Kikuko is locked into a loveless marriage. They live with his parents, and she is closest to her father in law. Kikuko doesn’t complain while her husband is having an affair. You want her to confront him, but she doesn’t. Kikuko finds out she is pregnant, doesn’t tell anyone and gets an abortion. As Shingo becomes more aware of Kikuko’s unhappiness, he takes ever more unconventional steps to rescue his son’s marriage. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Tsuma no kokoro aka A Wife’s Heart (1956)

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Quote:
The best moments of A Wife’s Heart involve things not said or seen and this is most explicit in the interactions between Kiyoko (Hideko Takamine) and her bank clerk bachelor confidant Kenkichi (Toshiro Mifune). Kiyoko, along with her husband Shinji (Keiju Kobayashi), wants to open a coffee shop and so goes to Kenkichi to ask for a loan. Director Mikio Naruse never focuses on the duo’s talk of money; as filmed, their entire relationship is a series of beginnings and endings with the middles cut out. It is at first purely a business association, though after Shinji (at the manipulative behest of his matchmaker mother) gives a majority of the loan to his deadbeat brother Zenichi, Kiyoko starts to think that her feelings for Kenkichi may be more then platonic. Following through on his setup, Naruse never lets either character nakedly confess their heart’s desire. The closest they come is during a sequence, set against the backdrop of a torrential downpour, where Kenkichi utters the first few words of a thought that he will never finish. In other hands this scene might have played as masochistic repression, but Naruse allows the rainstorm to act as an expressive emotional outlet—nature thus concludes what Kenkichi cannot. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Midareru AKA Yearning (1964)

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Slant Magazine wrote:
At first, Yearning appears to be a typically late-Narusian offering, a low-key and observational drama that obsessively details Reiko’s day-to-day routines. In addition to keeping her small business afloat, Reiko must deal with her meddling in-laws, who have their minds set on selling the grocery store, and also attend to Koji, who inexplicably indulges in a rebellious cycle of petty crime and violence. One of Naruse’s great talents is in making the mundane mysterious so when Koji declares, seemingly out of nowhere, that he’s been in love with Reiko for years, it takes more than a few moments to acclimate to the film’s suddenly malleable emotional terrain, even though, in retrospect, it makes perfect psychological sense. It’s a shock to witness how charged and raw the duo become after Koji’s admission, and Naruse’s camera, under the guiding eye of cinematographer Jun Yasumoto, never blinks, maintaining a harsh, voyeuristic presence as the characters move, like increasingly frenzied celestial bodies, through a space made unfamiliar because of a naked confessional moment. Read More »