Punishment Room | Chicago Reader

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Kon Ichikawa's controversial 1956 drama uses harsh lighting, distorted camera angles, and moody jazz to capture the helter-skelter life of alienated, hedonistic college students in postwar Japan. Adapting a novella by Shintaro Ishihara (later the mayor of Tokyo), the director and his frequent collaborator (and wife) Natto Wada heighten the sordid behavior of the protagonist (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), a loner who cons his old-fashioned father, slaps his professor, taunts rival gangs, and teases a fellow student after date-raping her (Ayako Wakao). Kawaguchi is almost likable in his nonchalance and suppressed anger, but the character is so despicably amoral that his comeuppance is almost a relief. In Japanese with subtitles. 96 min.

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