Monday, 8 July 2013
Cruel Story of Youth (Naked Youth) 
Trailblazing Japanese New Wave filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s seminal second feature Cruel Story of Youth was a pioneering work of the movement, and provided for an interesting parallel with the French Nouvelle Vague’s most iconic film, viz. Godard’s Breathless (both released in the same year). Its iconoclasm, youth rebelliousness, depiction of the marginalized, and anti-establishmentarian stance, set the tone for the fascinating movement. At its centre were its Bonnie & Clyde-type protagonists – Kiyoshi (Kawazu Yusuke), a delinquent young man belonging to the lower strata, and Makoto (Kuwano Miyuki), an adolescent girl who wants to break free from her middle-class family. When a middle-aged man tries to take advantage of Makoto after agreeing to give her a ride in his car, the brash Kiyoshi who was passing by the area beats him black and blue. And thus starts a topsy-turvy, volatile and destructive love affair between the two. While Makoto’s mild-mannered elder sister (Yoshiko Kuga), who is now anything but what she had in mind for herself during her younger days, attempts in futility to gets her back from Kiyoshi’s shack apartment and grungy life, the two embark on a dangerous route for sustaining their lives. Their plan comprises of Makoto luring men to make advances at her and then Kiyoshi turning up to fleece money out of them. Their calculations, however, goes haywire when the fragile Makoto is shown genuine fatherly affection by a wealthy elderly man. The film, in a rough, jagged style devoid of finesse or subtlety, provided an undiluted, edgy and yet quietly poignant portrayal of the underbelly of post-War Japanese society, with its dysfunction, estrangement, aimlessness, hollow dreams and disillusionments.
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Social Drama