14 July 1999 | SLS410
Brilliant, frightening and sobering, all at once.
It infuriates me no end that, now and forever, I will have to identify this movie (which I consider a masterpiece, and I don't use that word lightly) with the qualifier "Not the Michael Douglas movie!" Not only are the titles the same, but they refer to the same thing- the radioactive fallout that rained upon the survivors of the first nuclear bombings. In Imamura's film, this is no cheap metaphor; the whole movie is about the fallout, physical and emotional, from Hiroshima and the war itself. As the deterioration of a couple and their grown niece becomes more grimly clear, the ironic imagery becomes more potent, from the old clock that is reset each night to the stone gods that gradually pile up outside the heroine's door. (These, in turn, are carved by a shellshocked veteran who is compelled, in a series of tragicomic episodes, to attack anything with a motor that approaches the town.) The bombing day itself is shown in piecemeal flashbacks that are coolly horrifying. Yet "Black Rain" ("NtMDm!") can be watched, even repeatedly, because of Imamura's compassion for his characters. I repeat: a masterpiece.