Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Story Written with Water [1965]

A Story Written with Water, though his seventh feature, was a major turning point in Yoshida’s career as it was the first after he parted ways with Shochiko Studios. With the new found independence from studio interference, he embarked on a spree of dark, edgy, layered, psychologically dense, thematically rich and stylistically dazzling “anti-melodramas”, all starring his ethereal muse Mariko Okada, with this complex mother-son tale. Shizou (Yasunori Irikawa) is a shy, young man with a well-paying job and engaged to the pretty, vivacious Yumiko (Ruriko Asaoka). However, things aren’t anywhere as hunky-dory as they seem. He has a strange and unhealthy attachment to his beautiful, luscious mother Shizuka (Okada), disturbingly bordering on Oedipal Complex, which marks his thoughts and his nature – his prudishness, insecurity, streak of jealousy and aloofness. And things get further complicated when she renews her relationship with Yumiko’s gregarious father (Isao Yamagata) with whom she had a torrid affair long back. Two motifs played key roles; one visual – with a series of exquisitely structured flashbacks, featuring, among others, Shizou’s lingering memories of regularly bathing together with his mother when he was a kid, and the other psychological – his dilemma that his fiancée’s dad might very well be his biological father as well. The expressionistic B/W photography and disorienting camerawork combined to provide a disconcerting peek into the protagonist’s troubled psyche, his inescapable memories, his repressed urges, and his deep-set guilt on account of his tempestuous relationship with his mother. All the 4 actors, and especially Irikawa and Okada, provided compelling turns.

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


Sam Juliano said...

Another beautifully written and assessed review on a Yoshida work. Dark, edgy, thematically rich, multi-layered...this describes the film and the director's work from this period on for sure. Yes, the expressionistic work here is arresting.

One of your finest reviews Shubhajit! Outstanding!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. All Yoshida aficionados strongly feel that he is a deeply neglected & underwatched filmmaker - which is a travesty since, in terms of both form & content, he was beneath none - and I completely agree with this sentiment after seeing a few of his films.

Timmy said...

This is gorgeous!