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The last film completed by Kenji Mizoguchi (1956), and one of his few to receive foreign distribution, perhaps because its prostitution theme lent itself to exploitation. Anomalously for Mizoguchi's late period, it's not a historical film, but a social drama of the type he established in the 30s. The visual style seems stripped, purified, as it often does in the last films of great stylists, and there's a growly toughness to it that doesn't seem like the Mizoguchi of old. It's possible that, had Mizoguchi lived, he would have parlayed this line into yet another stylistic breakthrough, though standing in isolation it's difficult to read. Well worth seeing, if only as a challenge. In Japanese with subtitles. 88 min.

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