Wife of a Spy

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa / 2020 / Japan

Kiyoshi Kurosawa makes his first foray into period filmmaking with a twisty, Hitchcockian tale of love and betrayal in WWII, which earned him the 2020 Venice Silver Lion for Best Director.

In 1940, with the war on Japan’s doorstep, wealthy silk merchant Yusaku heads to Manchuria on a business trip, leaving his wife, amateur movie star Satoko, behind in Kobe. He returns a changed man, in possession of a horrific secret and a film to prove it. But when the military police inform Satoko that her husband also brought with him a woman, now dead, she must decide where her loyalties lie.

Stunningly shot in digital 8K, Wife of a Spy is an elegant tale of dangerous deceptions that finds Kurosawa adding a taut historical spy thriller to his eclectic oeuvre – MIFF audiences may recall his melancholy ghost story Journey to the Shore (2015) or earlier horror and supernatural sci-fi works Loft (2006) and Doppelganger (2004). Co-written by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, MIFF 2021) and Tadashi Nohara (Happy Hour, MIFF 2016), the complex, sinewy script repeatedly interrogates everyone’s motivations and allegiances while supporting a remarkable performance from Yū Aoi as Satoko, a character whose acting chops are as finely tuned as those of the actor bringing her to life.

“A thoroughly involving, old-school slice of wartime cloak and dagger … One of Kurosawa’s most purely enjoyable, internationally accessible entertainments.” – Variety

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