Kurutta Kajitsu (crazed Fruit) Reviews
The story is straightforward - two brothers fall for the same woman - but this is a film about tone, and context. Everything about it screams post-war, disaffected youth. A group of young men are bored, critical of traditional ways, and looking for good times - and young ladies. The younger of the two brothers (Masahiko Tsugawa) has an innocence about him, and falls for a pretty woman (Mie Kitahara) without realizing she's already married. The drama deepens when his older brother (Yujiro Ishihara) begins putting the moves on her behind his back.
The openness with which Kitahara's sexuality is displayed is a little shocking, though there is a grace to it, and it's refreshing to see. She deceives her American husband, and enjoys being the center of attention at a party. With the younger brother she needs to provide encouragement for him to make love to her, in one scene moving his hands up on to her breast. With the older brother, she gives way to his forceful overtures, even after saying 'no' initially. If that sort of thing is a trigger to you, you may want to avoid this one, as it also has the young men competing early on to see who can bring the hottest girl to a party, and other testosterone-fueled chatter. In general, the characters are hard to like, which may also be a turn-off. On the other hand, that's part of the point, and the film shows a reckless and sexually carefree youth in ways that are less inhibited than Hollywood at the time.
All of the principal actors turn in solid performances, and Masumi Okada is quite debonair in a supporting role. Mie Kitahara is quite pretty, and it's interesting that she would marry Ishihara, the actor who plays the older brother, just four years later. There is a little unevenness in the shots director K˘ Nakahira captures - some are just beautiful, while others seem low-budget - but it's an impressive first film, and all the more so as it was a few years ahead of the French New Wave (e.g. Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958), Truffaut's 400 Blows (1959), Godard's Breathless (1960), etc). It seems to me the film ought to be better known.
- K˘ Nakahira's debut, who is one of the important names in the Japanese New Wave.
- Controversial upon its initial release because of its depiction of delinquent Japanese youth.
- Considered as the pioneer work in the Japanese "taiyozoku" (sun tribe) subgenre, characterized by a notorious lack of adult presence, and the characters embodying the yearnings of Japan's post-war disillusioned youth.
- A predecessor not to the French New Wave (many Nouvelle Vague followers, including myself, consider the movement in France to have begun in 1955), but definitely to the portrayal of youth in any classic New Wave movement: Yugoslav, American, Czechoslovak, and even French.
- A film that Truffaut tremendously enjoyed, which not only impulsed him to recommend it to the Cinematheque, but also inspired him to make films with a particular style.
- A complete embodiment of what any New Wave movement of the 50s and 60s stands for, excluding the technically experimental/abstract side: a jazzy soundtrack, exploration of sexuality, the physical vacation settings of a moral tale by Rohmer (very conveniently... you'll see why), and an equally convenient lack of adult authorities.
It also has Truffaut's enthusiasm, Chabrol's macabre intentions, Rohmer's reflections on morality about relationships and affairs, and very, very brief "intellectual discussions" in the vein of Godard and Rohmer. If it wasn't because of some brief depictions of Japanese architecture, not even the language could have convinced me that this is a Japanese feature: it is a bloody French film, containing an interesting number of elements that preceded all of the Nouvelle Vague directors. In my book, "influential" is a very correct term to coin. With a climax worth of Polanski's Polish debut (that mirrors an important number of characteristics as well!), Crazed Fruit, although not legendary or masterful, is an absolutely essential viewing for those willing to venture into what is officially known as the N?beru b?gu, better known as the Japanese New Wave. Simple as that.
P.S. One scene that has the infamous vixen lying down with one of the brothers looking at the night sky while half of the frame's background consists of the dark ocean glittering in the middle of the darkness is one shot I will never forget.
A well-acted, written, and directed Japanese film about life and love in post-war Japan. A highly memorable film.
The story focuses on two brothers (Masahiko Tsugawa & Yojiro Ishihara).
They seem to be part of an affluent but idle class - all they want to do all day is go boating, water ski and chase girls and party with their friends. One day at a train station they meet a beautiful young girl named Eri (Mie Kitahara). The younger brother is immediately stricken with her beauty. They eventually bump into her again and invite her to go boating. It is then that the older brother too becomes attracted to the girl. It's the dynamics of this triangle and the revelations of the girl's character which will drive the drama along.
But I also sense an even subtler, darker theme here too. That the ways of the materialistic and listless youths can also be blamed on the post-war influence of the west - namely the United States.
I think the film retains a freshness in look mainly due it's italian neo-realist style - and is also in keeping with the New Wave in France. The cool and jazzy score fits right in to the story. Some sexually frank scenes may have been a sensation in it's time but relatively quite tame by today's standards.