Osaka Elegy (Woman of Osaka) (Naniwa erejî) (1979)
Critic Reviews for Osaka Elegy (Woman of Osaka) (Naniwa erejî)
The film prefigures Mizoguchi's later work in its angry emphasis on double standards, its visual precision and its engaged but never preachy tone.
The caustic social critic rather than the transcendental mythmaker, Kenji Mizoguchi arranges space exquisitely and fills it acerbically.
Mizoguchi regular Isuzu Yamada contributes a superb display of abused decency, but it's the director's astute visual sense that gives the picture its power.
By the end of Osaka Elegy, Ayoko's situation warrants nothing less than a universal call for empathy.
Audience Reviews for Osaka Elegy (Woman of Osaka) (Naniwa erejî)
My first Mizoguchi film, but already I am convinced that he is indeed as great as everyone says he is. My impressions of his style and technique will definitely grow and change as I watch more of his films, but I'm sure he will always remain a great director in my eyes. He is lesser known out of the Big 3 Japanese directors; I think his style is comparable to that of Ozu rather Kurosawa. Both Ozu and Mizoguchi have a similar knack for being able to tell stories which have melodramatic elements with great patience, serenity, and truth. Like with Ozu's films, there is not much that is overly sentimental or contrived, the film is well-paced and each frame is shot with great confidence in the ability to be slow-moving but still hold the audience's attention. A difference I noted is that Ozu's camera is more closer in and focused narrower on characters while Mizoguchi's camera is a little further back, did not utilize the tatami shot by placing the camera low, and the camera moved around more than Ozu's. It is only the first film I've seen of his, so I'll be learning more as I see more. In this film, Ishizu Yamada is Ayako Murai. She wants to marry Susumu Nishimura, a pathetic and selfish young romantic. He deserts her twice when she needs his support the most. She sleeps with her boss Asai to help her father and her brother financially. She gets mixed up with Mr. Fujino, which lands her in trouble with the law. Her tragedy is summed up by her line: "if I stay where I am, I don't know how much farther I'll fall". The police drop the charges, and she returns home but she is ruined because a newspaper runs a story about her arrest. In the end she is left all alone. Considered to be Mizoguchi's breakthrough film and it is a darn good one.
An interesting movie, the oldest film I've seen from Japan so far, actually. The best and worst thing about it is that the story is realistic. I say that it's also the worst thing because it made the film more boring than it could have been if it wasn't so realistic. It's a good thing too, though, because that's what makes it so sad. Also, I don't know if I'm just not used to the Japanese style or what, but I didn't care for the actors. Overall it's a pretty good movie, but I think it could have been better.
In "Osaka Elegy," Sonosuke Asai(Bankei Shiganoya), the owner of a pharmaceutical company, is so frustrated with his wife(Yoko Umemura) spending so many late nights with her women's association, that he threatens to get a mistress. She challenges him by saying he does not have the balls. To prove that he does in fact have them and that they are in working order, he preys on Ayako(Isuzu Yamada), a vulnerable employee who badly needs extra money because her father(Seiichi Takegawa) has embezzled and lost 300 yen on the stock market. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, "Osaka Elegy" is a familiar, yet powerful, melodrama that just goes to prove that sometimes the old stories never lose their punch. By being about a woman who does the wrong thing for the right reason, this one takes aim at the hypocrisies of society where having a mistress is alright, but only behind closed doors. For example, Ayako is attacked for not only being out in public at the theater with Asai, but also dressed like a married woman.
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