Single mum (father of child dead) from the country with 6th grade boy comes to Tokyo, leaves the boy to live with his uncle's family - wife, male, female teens, run a struggling greengrocer... See full synopsis »
A recurring theme in Naruse's films is how people are driven by circumstance rather than will. Several of his stories are about single women trying to get by in patriarchal postwar Japan, and the choices they have to make to survive. This movie focuses on those who are even less powerful to determine their own fate; the children of these women.
The main protagonist is a boy of around 12 years old who is moved to the city to stay with family while his widowed mother gets a job as a hostess. The mother seems to shun the boy and initially doesn't even mention him to her employer, who herself is the single mother of an illegitimate daughter, a sweet but somewhat spoilt girl of about 10. The two children meet and befriend each other.
The film offers a simple and childlike perspective, which is incredibly effective in conveying the experiences and feelings of the children; it is at times very emotional but it never gets melodramatic. At the same time, the adult world and its complications are presented to the viewer, providing another layer to the film.
The story, while beautiful, is quite sad and has a very unsatisfactory ending. But this ending is perfect for the film, it filled me with great yearning and a feeling of powerlessness, and of humanity.