19 July 2008 | crossbow0106
This film tackles a subject that even today is controversial: Choice. Kikuko (the utterly amazing Setsuko Hara) is locked into a loveless marriage with her husband. They live with his parents, and it is particularly her father in law Shingo (Su Yamamura, who also is excellent) that she is closest to. Kikuko is a veritable maid, but mostly doesn't complain, while her husband is having an affair. You want Kikuko to confront him, but she doesn't. Then (this is where it gets controversial) Kikuko finds out she is pregnant, doesn't tell anyone and gets an abortion! Her reason is that its not the time to have a child, since her relationship is in flux. In the movie "Juno", Ellen Page brings the baby to term. The brilliance of this film is its unflinching subject and how its handled, with dignity, sadness and relief. If this film were released today, especially in the United States, you'd have so many interest groups up in arms about it. That its handled like this, with you deciding what to feel rather than having your feelings be dictated to you, makes this a masterpiece. In every review I've written in which she has been an actress I've praised Setsuko Hara. She is beautiful (especially when she smiles), but its really about the seemingly effortless way she portrays all types of women, strong, weak, resilient, unable to cope etc. She is one of the greatest actresses to have ever graced the screen and her portrayal is phenomenal as the under appreciated wife who makes a choice based on her circumstances. Director Mikio Naruse has always considered this one of his best films, and it is. Even if you're passionate about the "life" issue, see this film. I can't say enough about the acting of Ms. Hara in this film. The film is essential viewing.