If there was ever a face made for melodrama it was that of Hideko Takamine, whose heart-shaped visage and forever-sad eyes could convey a world of emotion in a glance. In one the finest of her many magisterial collaborations with the great Mikio Naruse, she plays Yukiko, a young woman who weathers changing fortunes and a futile, years-long affair with the caddish Tomioka (Masayuki Mori) in postwar Japan. Alas, “Short is the life of flowers, infinite their sorrows…” Employing a dreamlike flashback structure to haunting effect, this obsessive masterpiece is exquisitely heartbreaking in its depiction of the enduring pain of love. 35mm print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
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