Not one of the director's best films, but of his films of this era this is the one that most implicitly cites the war as the major source of its characters' miseries. The social class is higher than is common for Naruse - not only are the characters comfortably middle-class (no one seems to be suffering economically in this film, except a former ballet teacher turned bus driver), but there isn't even any talk of lost relatives. The war caused the main character to give up dancing, and ruined her talented daughter's chance to study abroad and to make a real career of ballet. There is also the mention of how the war "destroyed the fabric of Japanese society," as well as the highlighting of the confused notions of "freedom" - the adoption of American ideas that to this day sit uneasily in Japan - in the post-war world.
Unusually, much of the film centers around the world of ballet, and even contains a number of ballet sequences. I went into it with the mistaken idea that it was based on Kawabata Yasunari's famous story "The Dancing Girl of Izu," but apparently the source is a more modern Kawabata story I haven't read. It's a handsome, if not tremendously distinguished film, but just about anything directed by Naruse is worth seeing.
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