A Town of Love and Hope (Ai to kibo no machi) (1959)
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Audience Reviews for A Town of Love and Hope (Ai to kibo no machi)
Barely lasting over an hour, Nagisa Oshima's first feature is a simple tale of an impoverished boy struggling to stay afloat in a cruel society. His father is gone. His mother is sick, and his younger sister is "simple." His mother makes a pittance shining shoes but it's not enough, so the family relies on a reluctant scam wherein he repeatedly sells pigeons that eventually get loose and fly back home. A privileged girl and a schoolteacher try to help the boy, but the system works against them. He can get a solid job if he goes to high school, but his family needs him working right now. The girl gives him a connection to find immediate work with a local electronics manufacturer, but his shaky background is a minus. There are no easy choices. "A Town of Love and Hope" (sometimes called "A Street of Love and Hope") is beautifully directed, even if lacks -- for better or worse -- the harsh political edge and daring edits of some later Oshima films. Oshima draws affecting performances out of an inexperienced cast, and Riichiro Manabe adds a polished, dramatic score besides.
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