15 September 2019 | boblipton
Yoshika Kuga has health problems, including a left hand that is so weak she sometimes cannot hold an apple in it. Nonetheless, she is a free-spirited, modern girl who takes part in a little theater that has a coffee shop as its hangout. She spots architect Masayuki Mori and boldly goes to his office, where she asks him about his wife, Mieko Takamine. Miss Takamine is having an affair with a young man, so the two begin an affair, hampered by Mori's sense of propriety and Miss Kuga's worrying about if he likes her, or is simply looking for sex. Also, she runs into Miss Takamine, and is overwhelmed by her beauty and self-possession. The two women become friends, and Miss Kuga refers to Miss Takamine as "Mom -- her own mother is dead, so care for her is split between her overwhelmed and liberal father, Tatsuo Saitô, and her old-fashioned grandmother, Kumeko Urabe. That's another set of issues in the affair, but Miss Kuga keeps going to see Mori.
Heinosuke Gosho directs this movie from a novel by Yasuko Harada. Confronted with the issue of how to make Miss Kuga not seem like a crazy villain in this movie, several tropes are borrowed from western movies. First, there's the lush, romantic score by Yasushi Akutagawa; another is the fact that Miss Takamine's infidelity 'excuses' that of her husband and the young woman. Mr. Mori does not talk much. so his stoicism seems almost brutish. There's also Miss Kuga's health issues, and her uncertainty, even though that looks a lot like a Lesbian crush; in fact, Miss Takamine's young lover refers to it as such.
The basic means to make Miss Kuga attractive to the audience is to make her up and light her like Audrey Hepburn. Miss Hepburn's roles often had her in romantic relationships with older male stars, and in 1957, before this was released, she wound up with Gary Cooper in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, and Fred Astaire in FUNNY FACE. Miss Kuga has her hair cut and is dressed in 'college chic' style, like Miss Hepburn in the latter movie, which was released five months earlier than this one. You cannot convince me this is a coincidence.
This being a moral movie, and Japanese, everyone has to suffer -- although Mori is stoic about it -- and in the end, no one gets what they wanted at the beginning, because they are all bad people. Still, they are BEAUTIFUL bad people, and fine actors, and there are all these reasons we should like them, even Miss Takamine; she is, after all, a good mother, and discreet about her affairs, and she is very kind to her young rival (even though she does not know of that rivalry). You know it is going to end badly. The question is: just how badly.