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REPAST

Japan, 1951 (MIFF 1988, Mikio Naruse Retrospective)

Director: Mikio Naruse

The Okamotos are a young couple who married for love rather than by family arrangement, but after a few years and no children, their romantic illusions have vanished. They live in an ordinary Osaka neighbourhood, and Hatsunosuke (Uehara) works as a nor too successful stockbroker, while a bored Michiyo (Hara) keeps house for him while longing to return to Tokyo. They receive a surprise visit from Hatsunosuke's niece Satoko (Shimazaki) who has run away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. Michiyo stays home to wash, iron and cook while Hatsunosuke takes his fond niece sightseeing around Osaka. Later when Michiyo meets her old school classmates she is surprised that some of them envy her for a good marriage. On her return home she finds Satoko has been associating with unsavoury people in the neighbourhood and possibly attempting to seduce Hatsunosuke as well. Michiyo decides to take her home to Tokyo, and possibly not return to Hatsunosuke. But after she has been at her mother's for a few day; Hatsunosuke arrives on a business trip, and Michiyo decides to go back to Osaka with him.

It is with this film that Naruse, who had already developed his marvellously understated style, found the content that suited him best the writing of Fumiko Hayashi. This very popular novelist who specialised in women's self-pity when translated by Naruse to the screen becomes profoundly subdue; the film almost without plot shows sidelong glances and significant cutaways a stage through which all intimate relationships pass. Oddly enough, Naruse got the project only because the director to whom it was assigned fell ill, but its success would open the way for him to adapt many more of Hayashi's books.

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