Monday, July 26, 2010

Mikio Naruse - Musume tsuma haha aka Daughters, Wives and a Mother (1960)


An idiosyncratic mixture of acerbic comedy, family chronicle and romance. Totally unheralded -- but if not a masterpiece, awfully close.

This film features a large extended family (and associates) even more extensive than the one portrayed by Ozu in "End of Summer". The central character is Setsuko Hara -- a poised middle-aged woman, whose wealthy (and prestigious) husband dies at the outset of the action, leaving her widowed but holding the proceeds of a million yen insurance policy. Being childless, her former in-laws have no objection to her return to her own family.

Although Hara's widowed mother is still alive (living in a wonderfully large house on the outskirts of Tokyo), the household is dominated by the eldest son of the family (Masayuki Mori). His wife (played by an unusually subdued Hideko Takamine) is generally well-meaning but too self-effacing (her only strong admonitions are to urge her husband to loan money to her uncle's troubled business). Also in the house are a couple of children and one of Hara's little sisters (played by the irrepressible Reiko Dan). There are two other married siblings not in residence -- a sister (living with hen-pecked husband Tatsuya Nakadai and his dragon-lady mother Haruko Sugimura) and a little brother (an advertising photographer).

english subtitles included
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