Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Mistress

Daiei Films
Director: Shiro Toyoda
Country: Japan
Length: 106 min.
Format: VHS
Date Viewed: 22 February

If there was ever a Japanese actress with as much talent, grace and extraordinary beauty as Hideko Takamine, I have not seen her (and I've seen a fair share of Japanese films, and from all decades starting with the 1910s). She shines again in The Mistress (Gan), an adaptation of the fantastic, though occasionally misogynistic, novel by Ogai Mori, Wild Geese (also Gan).

This excellent melodrama also showcases the talents of cinematographer Mitsuo Miura, whose work here may have inspired Kubrick on his The Killing, in that both use the camera as an especially voyeuristic extension of us, the viewer - following the characters from a safe distance, or partially hiding behind various objects or pieces of furniture to get a better look at the unfolding events.

Though glacially paced, the film is never boring, and in fact, it's an incredibly heartbreaking piece. More than once I found myself feeling the emotions of the characters, most notably when Otama, played by Takamine, is snubbed by the young student after she cooks him a dinner. It's rare when a film can invest us to the point of vicariousness. This is a wonderful, though hard-to-find film, but it will be worth your while to find yourself a copy.


Anonymous Belle said...

I've just finished the book so I hopefully will have time to watch it soon.

09 May, 2006 04:10  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Post your comments on it when you've seen it. I'd love to hear what you think.


09 May, 2006 21:13  

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