Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Affair (Joen) [1967]

Made in the form of an “anti-melodrama” despite the inherently melodramatic nature of the storyline, this brilliant and audacious Japanese New Wave film was an incisive, discomfiting, radically original, and well, bravura examination on the influence of a mother’s memory on her daughter, and how it shapes her relationships with the men in her lives. Oriko (Mariko Okada) has always had trouble accepting the fact that her mother was a promiscuous and liberated woman, resulting in her affinity towards judging her even after her untimely death. She is married to a well-to-do exec but her frigidity and her coldness towards him has compelled him to look for physical proximity elsewhere. When her mother was having an affair with Mitsuhara (Isao Kamura), a much younger man and sculptor, she had expressed her strong distaste for their relationship to him. Yet ironically, after her mother’s demise, she starts getting close towards him – more so when, after a rough one-night stand with a stranger who she had accused of raping a girl she knows, she becomes further troubled on account of her reaction and sense of guilt. Yoshida’s extraordinarily beautiful muse gave a startlingly layered turn as the complex and troubled protagonist in this dazzlingly (and expressionistically) photographed psychological drama that constantly moved back and forth in time. Interestingly, perhaps because of his own deep-seated sexual insecurity on account of his relationship with such an alluring lady as Okada, fidelity and potency (or their lack thereof) have recurred in quite a few films – particularly the ones during the period when her physical beauty and fame were at their highest. And boy does the camera literally love gazing at her!

Director: Yoshishige Yoshida
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Romantic Drama
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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