A Last Note (1995)
Veteran filmmaker Kaneto Shindo directed this absurdist meditation on aging, loss, and death at the age of 82. Screen legend Haruko Sugimura plays Yoko Morimoto, an elegantly dressed, acid-tongued octogenarian actress who retreats to her mountain villa after the death of her husband. Upon her arrival, her longtime caretaker Tokoyo (played by Shindo's wife Nobuko Otowa), tells her that the gardener committed suicide in a coffin built by his own hand, leaving only an enigmatic note and a rounded rock to bang in the final nail. Later, she learns that her old acting friend Tomie (Kyoko Asagiri) is paying her a rare visit. Or rather, Tomie who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, is being taken to Yoko's villa by her famous Non-actor husband Tohachrio Urashikumi (Hideo Kanze), with the hope that the visit will at least temporarily restore her memory. Having run out of money to pay for his wife's treatment, he tells Yoko that they are planning to commit suicide rather than enter in an old folks home. Their reminiscence is interrupted when a knife-wielding lunatic bursts into the house. Alzheimer's may have impaired her memory, but Tomie's reflexives prove to be top-drawer; she improbably wrestles the assailant to ground just as the police get to the scene. After Tomie is presented with a commendation for bravery by the regional government, Toyoko confesses to Yoko that she had an affair with Yoko's dead husband, who was the biological father of Toyoko's daughter. This film received the Critics Award at the 1995 Moscow International Film Festival. … More
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