Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Chikamatsu Monogatari
Japan, 1954. Daiei Studios. Screenplay by Yoshikata Yoda, adaptation by Matsutaro Kawaguchi, based on the play by Monzaemon Chikamatsu. Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa. Produced by Masaichi Nagata. Music by Fumio Hayasaka, Tamezo Mochizuki. Production Design by Hisakazu Tsuji. Costume Design by Natsu Ito. Film Editing by Kanji Suganuma. Cannes Film Festival 1955.
The servant in a wealthy merchant’s household is asked by the owner’s wife to help her out of a financial bind that, when it is discovered, is mistaken for a secret love affair. The two wrongly accused individuals run away and end up falling in love thanks to their shared guilt. This tragic love story has a trajectory typical of classic Japanese romance and is not atypical of director Kenji Mizoguchi’s skill with subtlety and sensitive emotional expression. Its melodramatic story feels more like he is keeping up with his audience’s expectations between more artfully impressive films like Life of Oharu and Sansho The Bailiff, but really good acting elevates the plot above standard soap opera.