Street of Shame - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Street of Shame Reviews

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October 28, 2015
Shows the drama of poverty when taken down the wrongest road, in a well-acted though discomforting period piece.
½ August 5, 2014
Sadly, this was to be the last film made by film-maker, Kenji Mizoguchi before dying. But at least he went out with a great film, especially one that touches on his usual themes. In fact, this film was so powerful that it's considered to be one of the reasons why prostitution was banned in Japan shortly after its release.

The story focuses on a group prostitutes working in a brothel called Dreamland, and each has their own personal problems to deal with, while the country's politicians are also debating the issue of prostitution which could ruin their livelihood. Hanae is a married woman with a child, whose husband is unemployed and depressed, Mickey is the new girl in the brothel who is very cynical and only cares about herself, Yumeko is a widow and an older prostitute whose son wants nothing to do with her, Yorie wants to get married and leave the brothel, and Yasumi is the most respected and profitable of the prostitutes who is saving up to buy her way out of the brothel, while also stringing along a man who wants to marry her, but is only using him for money.

Despite having a fairly short running time of 80-odd-minutes, Street Of Shame manages to develop its characters quite well. No one feels like a cardboard cutout as the film explores their issues and how they live their lives from day to day, not knowing what will come next as their profession is possibly about to be outlawed and not knowing what to do with themselves. I especially enjoyed how the tormented Yumeko character was developed as her life slowly falls apart after her own son disowns her. There's a great deal of emotion and turmoil to be found in the story, and you can't help but feel sympathy for these characters because the script does such a good job at developing them.

The acting is also pretty good, though actresses Aiko Mimasu (Yumeko) and Machiko Kyo (Mickey) steal the show with their roles, even though their characters are polar opposites of one another. The cast as a whole is also quite good and each makes their character feel alive and never lets them fall into the pitfalls other characters would in lesser dramas.

While not his most polished work, Street Of Shame is still a fantastic film that is well worth watching and a fitting sendoff for the underrated director. It's a film that will make you feel a wide range of emotions as you follow each of the troubled characters and you will be engaged from beginning to end.
March 29, 2014
Kenji Mizoguchi's last film was so great ( great as in tragic) that it directly led to the banning of prostitution in Japan.
March 16, 2014
Melodramatic but engrossing.
½ December 20, 2013
Mizoguchi Explores the Darker Side of the Street--Brutal and Riveting!!
March 23, 2012
There is not much to rant or rave about Kenji Mizoguchi's "Street of Shame." The last film of a master filmmaker tells the tales of prostitutes living in a Japanese brothel. Machiko Kyo, who starred in the masterpiece "Ugetsu," and in Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" is an entirely different person in this one; very vibrant! There were about two or three sequences that really impressed me. I think this film is too constricted; it almost entirely supports the prostitutes and does not present any real obstacles or at least fails to really delve the viewer into the lives of these unfortunate women. I could even argue that it doesn't provide genuine reasons for these women to have no other alternative except prostitution. "Street of Shame" is much more polished than Mizoguchi's "The Life of Oharu," however it lacks a great character and it doesn't have much emotional power, therefore "The Life of Oharu" is better. In no way, do both films come close to "Ugetsu," or "Shansho the Bailiff." It is fine film to watch once for Mizoguchi, the somewhat interesting stories of the women, and for the poignancy of the concluding minutes.
February 4, 2012
It's disappointing that this film didn't have more heart. Mizoguchi creates this interesting situation of prostitutes trying to make a living in a job that's being outlawed by the government, but it doesn't really give many interesting insights. Go figure, a prostitute is doing this because she is in debt and she desperately needs the money. Then the older ones are sad because they are older and the men want younger women. But it never really delves into their actual emotions. One of the women is upset because her son disowns her for being a prostitute. Great story, but it pretty much stops there. Maybe I was just wanting more from each character, and somehow that wasn't what Mizoguchi was going for? I just felt like there was so much more set up with a young woman coming in to work for the brothel and then have the older ones be upset. Instead, it just takes the obvious paths and never surprised me. It's entertaining and well done with the performances, but if you're looking for something deeper, I'd say look somewhere else.
January 20, 2012
Mizoguchi's final film was made right before prostitution was to be banned in Japan, and the story focuses on a group of female prostitutes in the red light district, afraid of what might happen to them and their livelihood in the near future. Mizoguchi was always a fine craftsman of the artform, and was always great at showcasing female emotions to the core, and "Akasen Chitai" was no different. It's not as heartbreaking as say, "Sansho Dayu" or "Osaka Elegy", but an excellent film to bow out with. Tuberculosis would claim the director's life just after the release.
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2011
Mizoguchi's last film illustrates why prostitutes "have" to do what they do, instead of only "why". The film follows many prostitutes working during a time when prostitution was being legally challenged in Japan. Their lives all intersect at a club where they serve new clients on a nightly basis. One prostitute is a ruthless con who ends up tricking a merchant out of his business and 250,000 yen. Another is a woman who sold herself to support her son, but her son, unable to deal with her profession and past, rejects her. Another sells her body to support her ill husband and infant child. Then there is one who is a young delinquent and we learn that she does so probably out of spite for her father's behavior in the past. The heartbreak of a prostitute who tries to flee the business but realizes that: her husband is using her, that married life is too difficult, and earning a living by other means doesn't pay enough, sums up how trapped the prostitutes are. It is strange and sad to see that all are in the profession for only money and desperately want to leave, but can never generate enough cash. The exception is Yat-chan who tricks the merchant, then in the end takes over his store and thus frees herself from the business. However, the departure of one prostitute signals the coming of another as we see a young girl on her first night trying to bring in customers; her uncomfort with her situation mirrors the audiences. The great effectiveness of the film lies in being able to portray the horrible and difficult lives of prostitutes so matter of factly, that is where the real shock lies.
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2011
mizoguchi's last film sees the elegant geisha of his earlier period films fallen to the level of common prostitutes in the post war period. each of the five or so main characters have distinct personalities and very different reasons for and ways of dealing with their work and its consequences. machiko kyo, the beautiful ghost from ugetsu, is especially striking as cynical modern girl mickey.
½ May 20, 2011
With this title as one of his best works, Kenji Mizoguchi closes his life page in a fashion one would remember as his final, and probably the greatest, contribution to Japanese cinema.
½ September 19, 2010
Mizoguchi's final film is an expose about prostitution (still legal at the time) and the sad causes and consequences for five women. Melodramatic and harrowing at times, but also ambivalent in tone, recognizing that for these troubled women, few options existed to earn a decent wage in less stigmatizing professions. Occasional psychotronic music for emphasis.
June 7, 2010
It's not the best Mizoguchi film but it's quite good nonetheless. It has excellent acting and cinematography but does come off as melodramatic at times.
May 14, 2010
Kenji Mizoguchi was already sick when he made this studio assignment about five prostitutes in the declining era of the brothel, textbook Mizoguchi territory, and it would be his last film, but there's nothing to suggest a man creating for the last time, it's as vibrant, emotional, and hard hitting as his masterworks twenty and thirty years earlier. Mizoguchi doesn't seem to be as angry as he was in his "Sisters of Gion" days, but the film does tackle issues directly related to the politics of the day, mainly, what are these women to do if prostitution is outlawed, where will they live, work, how will they pay off their mounting debts, and wasn't it men who drove them to this lifestyle in the first place? Criterion shuffled this off to it's Eclipse series, with no extras, but it deserves a more studied look, and if you can watch it, the Masters of Cinema version has a commentary by Tony Rayns, who really knows his Mizoguchi.
October 10, 2009
I probably should have watched Ugetsu to introduce myself to Mizoguchi, but I won't fuss over seeing this first. Anyway, Street of Shame was Mizoguchi's last film and I remember reading that it was filmed in an actual Japanese whorehouse to get an authentic feel. It certainly succeeds in this. We follow the everyday happenings in a whorehouse in Japan while the government is issuing a ban on prostitution. We see the four main women who work, and each has her own story and reason as to why she does what she does. As mentioned, the film really seems authentic, and Mizoguchi has a lot of depth to his shots when we're looking at the city and the house; a sidenote to mention is to watch for his use of cross-hatching, whether on the walls or on a crate that's facilitating somebody's suicide. This turned out to be a nice little commentary on the pros and cons (mainly pros) of prostitution ("why can't we sell what we own?") and on female hardships in general. Each of the four girls has an interesting background, and their relationship with one another feel realistic, as they all seem to support each other in comaraderie, but not so much where they may lose a paying customer to the other. I really liked this. The story and the setting are both very realized. The most notable flaw for me was the music; at times it presented the film as a sort of cartoonish unknown to the general public, which I can appreciate, but I thought it would be more appropriate to heighten the drama at points with something more somber.
October 9, 2009
Mizoguchi's final film revisits one of his favorite themes: struggling women, specifically prostitutes. There is a feeling of repetition here, and it lacks the stunning emotional impact of his better films, but it may be his best work technically. It looks wonderful, and a lot of the camera setups are really interesting. The avant-garde music is an unusual touch as well, sparsely used but startling. The story is also briskly paced, managing to juggle a large cast without getting too confusing.
½ September 22, 2009
Très beau, mais quelques aspects caricaturaux jurent avec la délicatesse du traitement général...Belle mise en contexte sociale du phénomène, notamment avec les scènes extérieures dans les quartiers miséreux.
September 22, 2009
Film d'une grande dlicatesse. criture particulirement intelligente. Interprtation parfaite.
June 1, 2009
Br00tal, but of course I expected nothing less from Mizo. I liked how well the different prostitutes contrast with each other without really being one dimensional archetypes. I found the part with the old prostitute and her son rather unconvincing.
April 20, 2009
Japanese prostitutes ply their trade while the government considers prohibiting it. This topical Mizoguchi film was released months before prostitution was made illegal in Japan.
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