The Twilight Samurai | Chicago Reader

The Twilight Samurai

Veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada (of the popular Tora-san series) has concocted an atypical samurai film (2003), whose unassuming hero, Seibei, a low-ranking, poorly paid samurai who works as a clerk, prefers hearth and home to wine, women, and fighting. This serene portrait of a loving family man, as risible to his peers as he might be attractive to a modern audience, is set in the mid-19th century, at the tail end of the feudal Edo period. Seibei, incarnated by the charismatic Hiroyuki Sanada, reveals some well-hidden fighting skills when he comes to the defense of a childhood sweetheart, but his subsequent sword fights, liberally sprinkled with antiviolence philosophizing, take a backseat to romance in this gentle, muted film of limited aesthetic ambition. In Japanese with subtitles.

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