Osaka Elegy | Chicago Reader

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One of Kenji Mizoguchi's finest efforts, this 1936 Japanese feature revolves around a young woman who becomes her employer's mistress in order to get money to settle her father's drinking debts. She's humiliated when the man's wife finds out, but family requests for money ensnare her further. The narrative is precisely crafted, the characters' conflicting goals and demands creating a trap from which no one can escape. Mizoguchi often films from a distance, and as his characters gradually shift their positions, long takes become visual metaphors for the network of connections between people; individualism is always isolating, and the film ends with the young woman moving into a terrifying close-up, severed from the contexts in which she can no longer function. In Japanese with subtitles. 71 min.

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