6 December 2012 | MartinHafer
Very, very sad....
While "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" may lack the excitement of many Japanese films, I really enjoyed it and felt it rather profound...as well as profoundly sad. It's the story of a woman, Mama, who has worked as a hostess in a Ginza bar for some time and she longs to leave the life. After all, her job is to be nice to men who come to the bar and get them to drink as well as get them to buy her drinks. It isn't much of a life and the long hours and drinking take their toll. However, despite hating the life, she also tries to uphold her standards and, unlike some hostesses, she doesn't sleep with her clients. But there are many pressures to do so--especially since the job really doesn't pay well. Plus, sleeping with one of these men might enable her to have enough money to buy a place of her own and have a bit of security. But, for every step forward she takes, there is yet another setback. Can she somehow forge a better life for herself before it is too late? While a film about quiet desperation is probably NOT everyone's cup of tea, the film was written, acted and directed exceptionally well. It de-glamorizes these women and helps create a sense of empathy for them--particularly Mama, who the audience can't help but like. Well done.