17 September 2019 | boblipton
If We Had The Chance, What Choices Would We Make?
Hideko Takamine agrees to become the mistress of Eijirô Tôno. She was married, but the man turned out to have a wife and child, causing her and her poor father, a candy seller...well, problems. Tôno is, they believe, the widowed owner of a kimono shop with children, so it will be some time before she can be brought into his household as his wife. He is kind and indulgent of her. He is not, however, it turns out as advertised. His wife is very much alive and he is a money lender, despised by everyone when they are not trying to borrow money, and always hated by his debtors who cannot pay his usurious rates.
He is desperately in love with Miss Takamine. She likes him, but as she gradually learns the truth about him, she comes to despise him and herself. She takes refuge in a wished-for love of Hiroshi Akutagawa, a handsome medical student who killed a snake trying to eat her caged pet bird. He is focused on his studies and hopes to pass a test that will send him off to faraway Europe with a decent stipend.
Shirô Toyoda directs this fine adaptation of the hard life of poor Miss Takamine, from a novel by Ogai Mori. Toyoda was one of the many talented Japanese directors of the era. He directed his first movie in 1929, the last of almost 70 in 1976. He was best regarded for his literary adaptations like this one.
There are no clear villains in this movie. Everyone is trapped into the role that circumstances and economics dictates. They all long be free, but which of them will escape, like the wild geese that still flew over Tokyo in the time this movie is set?