Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Japan, 1960. Toho Company. Screenplay by Ryuzo Kikushima. Cinematography by Masao Tamai. Produced by Ryuzo Kikushima. Music by Toshiro Mayuzumi. Production Design by Satoru Chuko. Costume Design by Hideko Takamine. Film Editing by Eiji Ooi.
A woman working as the hostess of a Tokyo nightclub since losing her husband finds herself, at the age of 30, tired of both being single and the daily grind of making male guests comfortable in her establishment. The girls in her care take clients home for an even better time than they get in the club, and she sees this degradation and toys with the idea of escaping the worst of the lifestyle by opening up her own place. At the same time she is approached with the possibility of marriage and cannot decide which is the best course for improving her situation. Through turns subtle and sly, director Mikio Naruse presents the inner turmoil of his protagonist’s situation with the kind of realism whose magical sleight of hand can only be marveled at. Thanks to this and the superb performance in the lead by Hideko Takamine, it’s hard to notice the mechanics of the story and at the same time impossible to take your eyes away.