Though the heroine of Mikio Naruse's 1957 period drama is a rebellious free spirit rather than a passive victim (as was often the case in his work), the film nonetheless drives home the director's perennial theme, the impossibility of happiness within Japanese society. Naruse's longtime muse Hideko Takamine plays an orphaned young woman forced to live with an older man in the early 20th century. She refuses to take orders from him, and for her defiance she's thrown out into an uncaring world, floating like a scrap of paper from job to job and from man to man. Naruse directs the picaresque story with icy detachment, employing a mostly static camera and blunt editing that emphasizes the distance between characters. As a result, the heroine seems forever stuck in place no matter how much she actually moves. In Japanese with subtitles.
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