No Regrets for Our Youth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

No Regrets for Our Youth Reviews

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½ March 9, 2017
Some movies have a way of capturing time passage that can weaken the viewer at the knees, feeling a merciless victim to time, change, life and death. There's a scene between Yukie and Itokawa meeting up in Tokyo after not seeing each other for three years - it's been eight years since we first met them - and the way he talks about the past with the music, framing them against a timeless cityscape, their postures simple and still, hers shamed... It's all such a memoir feeling.

Yukie pacing back and for day after day outside of Noge's is so beautifully staged and captured. Great set and lighting to favor weather changes - a rainy day, windy day, and sunny day when Noge finally bumps into her.

Yukie is hard to read, a sequence of events between her and Noge reveals her to be bipolar. Things he may enjoy, like a worm or a movie, may cause her sudden out years of sadness.

There's a moment Yukie struggles to carry a bail of hay after we've seen a montage of a disapproving community that considers anyone from Noge's family to be a traitor... Kurosawa uses a unique method of something like an offscreen studio audience laughing at her struggle. "Don't forget the struggle of freedom" we hear Yukie's father say amidst a montage of voice overs as she tirelessly sows.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2016
Made just one year after WWII ended, Kurosawa's 'No Regrets For Our Youth' explores the lesser-known part of Japan that protested against rising militarism in the 1930's, as well as acknowledges Japan's mistake for having chosen a path that led to such a devastating war, and for that it's a fascinating and important film. It also has an interesting story of a love triangle in which a young woman (Yukie Yagihara, played by Setsuko Hara) is pursued by two young men (Noge and Itokawa), whose personalities are established in the film's opening scene. They're all crossing a creek on stepping stones, and she needs help at the end. Both offer their hands. Noge then strides over confidently and picks her up, carrying her across with her legs flapping, to the annoyance of the conservative Itokawa. They all then run off up a hill together, carefree youth that they are.

However, it's 1933, and with Japan's militarism on the rise, their world is about to change. The students protest for freedom, but their movement is crushed, and they must decide whether to continue on with it or conform. Itokawa chooses the latter path; Noge the former. The safe route for Yukie is with Itokawa, but she's drawn to Noge. As she puts to Itokawa while walking with him at night in a fantastic scene, "If I follow you, my life will be peaceful. But...if I may say'll be boring. If I follow him [Noge] something dazzling will await me. My life will be stormy. It terrifies me and fascinates me."

Setsuko Hara showed outstanding range in the film, and turned in a great performance. As Noge is possibly leaving her for years, or forever, Kurosawa shows her standing behind a door, torn by rising emotions. She simply can't remain on a conventional path, as she says to her father "Now I feel my life is meaningless - I want to go out into the world and see what it's like to live." She later will have several great scenes on her in-laws' farm, enduring backbreaking labor planting rice, and having to resolutely stand up to people there who insult and shame her for her association with Noge. Kurosawa is a master at letting his actors wordlessly communicate with their faces, and does so brilliantly in a scene when various villagers stare at her. Through it all, she knows that she chose wisely, and recalling Noge's words "No regrets in my life, no regrets whatsoever" gives her strength.

Indeed she has no regrets, and this is the title of the film, but it's clear that Kurosawa has regrets for his country's actions, which is the film's irony. It's stirring at the end with messages of individuality and freedom, which are powerful but feel a little over the top, possibly the reflecting script alterations Kurosawa was not happy with, or the oversight and influence of the occupation American censors. I believe a good portion of it, however, was Kurosawa trying to process the shame and humiliation of the war, find something positive, and point to the future, one in which there is a need to at least sometimes think as individuals in order to remain free. One year after the war, Kurosawa essentially admits the country was wrong, something that Japanese officials would struggle with in various forms for decades afterwards.

"I look forward to seeing more Noge's in the future, rising from this assembly of young, hopeful students," says the professor at the end, the pain and shame on a couple of faces in the crowd. "You must fight for freedom, and there will be torture and sacrifice in the struggle," he had told Yukie earlier. Artistically these messages feel a bit forced, and yet, we have to admire Kurosawa's courage, and are grateful that such an excellent filmmaker gave us this window into the Japanese psyche in 1946.
June 20, 2015
The only way this film can work is for Noge to be a sympathetic character. And he simply wasn't, in any way.
Ultimately, too leftist, & naively idealistic for me. As bad as fascism is, self-righteous protesting student university worship leads to just as many ills. If it wasn't for Hara, it wouldn't be nearly as watchable.
At one point in the movie, I'm like, "stop being boring!" Yeah, I just didn't really find her husband as heroic as I was supposed to.
I find the "no regrets" phrase to be meaningless. Really? No regrets for anything? You've never treated someone poorly? You don't regret that? That's rather cold & unfeeling.
The worst part is that I can't tell the characters apart. They're all Asian.
½ March 30, 2015
Kurosawa's first postwar film is a solid film, but really not yet the work of a master film maker. It's a melodramatic story about a rather spoiled woman who's drawn into politics when she marries a leftist, and ultimately is forced to become an adult in order to survive.
February 8, 2015
A film that could never have been done during the war for obvious reasons became the first film Kurosawa did after the war. Yukie is a pampered rich girl who spends her time playing the piano and relishes being pursued by two suitors, both of whom are college men. Itokawa is gentle and affectionate but too much so. There is a scene in which Yukie asks him to get on his knees and beg her forgiveness even though he hasn't done anything, and to her horror, he does exactly that. He is the safe suitor, ultimately becoming a successful prosecutor. Noge is the brave and romantic hero who is adamantly against the rise of Fascism and will thus pay the predictable price for his passions. Yukie does her utmost to forget and avoid Noge but is drawn to his magnetism so strongly she eventually ends up marrying him. The scenes of them being married are heartbreaking because of the terror she feels every time he walks out the door. Eventually Noge is imprisoned and assassinated by the fascists right before his trial. What Yukie does in response to that is heroic and amazing making her the greatest heroine in the entire Kurosawa oeuvre. A seriously underrated Kurosawa film.
November 26, 2014
These modern directors should watch Kurosawa. They could learn some things.
June 28, 2014
Interesting indictment of the Japanese government and how it kept its citizens under strict censure before and during the war. It's also a message to the people who lived through and supported the repressive regime.
½ May 30, 2014
This is one of Kurosawa's earlier works and as such I'm not really sure what to think of it. Unlike his war and pre-war films this is at least his vision we're seeing. The issues tie directly in with the ones Kurosawa had dealt with as a silent critic of the imperial regime. It's just that they're more overt than is usual for his films while at the same time being more opaque and unexplored.

As with many of his films this one is about valorizing the individual's struggle for right behavior against a society that is indifferent or hostile. This time the struggle takes place over a decade and follows the story of a girl who gets involved with an opponent to the imperial regime and a spy. It looks at what heroism really means and concludes, in a typically Japanese way, that it means continuously suffering for a good cause. It isn't exactly a novel concept but he handles the material well.

An interesting feature of the work is that the main character is a woman. This is quite unusual for a Kurosawa film since he appears to have found the lives of women entirely uninteresting. The presentation of the lead character features several highly unsurprising and patriarchal assumptions but after an unimpressively self-centered youth she actually turns into a surprisingly strong character. Sure, she expresses this strength through subordinating her desires first to those of her husband and then to her in-laws, but she is at least deciding the path of her own life and gets to tell off people who are less stubborn than she is. One can only expect so much from a 1940s film after all.

I think one of the difficult bits to appreciate is the then modern setting. The events dealt with were then fresh in everyone's memory (it must have started production mere months after the US landing) so he felt no need to explain the background. And indeed the rise of Imperial Japan doesn't need much explaining since it features mostly the same features we'd expect from a fascist state: the suppression of academic liberty and the persecution of political dissidents. But the same cannot be said of the actions of Noge. All that we know about him is that he is doing something he considers vitally important. He's clearly aligned with the Leftists and anti-fascists, but for more than that you need to look up the Wikipedia page to find out it has to do with leaking secrets to Russia and the Sorge case. Then there are the not infrequent moments of dialogue over-minimizing. There were many times I wanted to shout at the screen, "Yes, I understand that you're feeling something hard. Is it too much to ask that you explain what it is?"

Overall it was a good film, but nowhere near his best. It starts off fairly well but has a long and slow middle before moving onto a much stronger ending. I didn't recognize most of the cast but I did squeal a little when I spotted Takashi Shimura in a bit role as a villain. I don't think I ever saw him as a baddie before so that was fun. I think this is probably the earliest of his films I can genuinely say I liked for more than its academic value.
½ April 10, 2013
kurosawa's only female protagonist is played by the amazing setsuko hara, who is essentially a female james dean with a longer career...and who isn't dead. point being: obsession worthy. kurosawa's direction is on fire for such an early point in his career, and the cinematography/lighting is always used to its best. there are a few weirdly-paced montages, but no complaints otherwise. but really it is setsuko hara that carries this movie. damn she can act.
½ February 6, 2012
An extremely impressive film. One of Kurosawa's finest. A love triangle is the vehicle for telling the story of a society sliding into fascism (the elite ruling both gov't and business) and the academic fight (protests and arrests) against the policies of the powerful and the resulting propoganda war against dissent. A healthy parallel can be found into today's 21st society.
½ January 21, 2012
Excellent performance from Setsuko Hara, particularly in the second half of this film. Also, the almost fairy-tale like opening was pretty spectacular. Too bad it didn't really build into anything but the next scene. It might have been interesting to see that recur throughout the movie. (See: "Pan's Labyrinth")
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
More of an artistic touch present in this film than in Kurosawa earlier films. This film is well shot, but a little slowly paced that it becomes boring at times to watch. It is a provocative depiction of the struggle of a women. A great look into the lives of students and revolutionaries in Japan during the 1930s. Denjiro Okochi and Susumu Fujita deliver performances which completely made me forget they acted in the Sanshiro Sugata films not so long before this film. Long time Kurosawa collaborator, Takashi Shimura, makes a brief appearance as a not so sympathetic police officer but nonetheless makes his mark on the film with his famous ruminative expression. The most credit goes to Setsuko Hara, with whom I fell absolutely in love with in Ozu's Tokyo Story. Hara undergoes a dynamic change and her ability to show growth and maturity despite being so good at acting as an once naive and careless city girl was very surprising and convincing to watch. Her portrayal of her character is masterful as she enters the rural farmlands to help her in-laws. This is a must-see film from Kurosawa because it is his first real attempt at a serious and complex film and for Hara's brilliant performance.
½ July 10, 2010
There is *some* visual merit, but not much else.

Kurosawa made some slow films (Seven Samurai and Kagemusha some to mind) but this films crawls, literally crawls. It is slow, boring and gives the audience nothing in return for choking through it. It isn't Kurosawa's worst (that would be Sanshiro Sugata II) but it sure is close.
½ June 26, 2010
Finally, Kurosawa's first actual movie. It's still a bit heavy on the politics, but it gets better after the first half hour. The characters are much more fleshed out than in his earlier stuff, and shows great growth for Kurosawa. Overall it's pretty good.
½ June 22, 2010
Idealistic. Almost to a point of moralistic propaganda. Story is well told. Characters well developed. And Kurosawa style delightful. There are parts I felt it's dragging on. But all in all, a courageous work in the post-war era.
½ May 12, 2010
This very early Akira Kurosawa film shows some amazing competence in both form and content, even while remaining simplistic. Kurosawa, apparently, received a lot of training as a second-unit director before moving into his lifelong passion for making his own films and his experience shows. Produced just after WWII, Kurosawa touches on a lot of worthy points for the time in regards to the situation Japan was placed in. Utilizing a small, yet determined character such as Yukie, who is played wonderfully by Sesuko Hara, brings a human component to the heavy-handed message at play here. "Regrets" is a worthy indicator of the great works Kurosawa would come to produce in a long and prosperous career.
April 26, 2010
Early Kurosawa and like a lot of his early stuff it sucks. I have a feeling people just rate these movies highly because of the director.
½ April 18, 2010
Awesome, as usual. Some brilliant shots of shadows which I found fascinating, kind of about the political secrets that her lover kept. Unique in that the main character is a young woman, which is rare for Kurosawa. A story of political censorship, fear, an free expression, wrapped up in a story of coming of age and love for our main character who falls for the mystery and excitement, the "have no regrets" attitude of a young man who is pushed into secretive political organizing after a revered university professor is expelled for his liberal views. The young man is imprisoned, and years go by, and when released, they finally meet again, and begin a slightly hidden romance as lovers. He is eventually captured for his organizing, and executed as a spy. The film then takes a fascinating turn as she seeks out his parents, who now almost entirely hate him for being a traitor and ruining their lives. They live in shame and fear, constantly ridiculed by all the other townspeople and only go out at night to do their farm work. The girl essentially forces her way into their lives and slowly proves herself by her work, trying to live the "no regrets" mantra, eventually transforming herself and his parents in the process, no longer afraid of the rest of the town, simply laboring in their own righteous path despite the vitrol and sabotage of their neighbors. A wonderful film.
January 22, 2010
Kyoto professors and university students protest the growing militarization of Japan leading up to World War II. Kurosawa movie starring Setsuko Hara that seems to echo some of the European themes explicit in Spain, and often implicitly underlying WWII where anyone who isn't a fascist is accused of being a Communist. A bit odd seeing Hara, who often played perfect girl-next-door characters play a character who starts off as a spoiled brat and transforms into a mud covered rice farmer.
½ December 15, 2009
My husband and I had this disc for a month before we could bring ourselves to watch it, and I think we may have been justified. Kurosawa never delievers anything but a well crafted, beautifully shot film, but unlike his others, I just could not get into this li
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