Wednesday 10 December 2014

Thirst for Love [1967]

Made right after his greatest work Black Sun, and adapted from Yukio Mishima’s novel of the same name, Kurahara’s final film for Nikkatsu, Thirst for Love, was a tense psychological drama with strong elements of noir. This dark exploration of love, lust and dysfunction was marvelously ensconced in brooding atmosphere, sensuality and moodiness, making this a fine elucidation of the Japanese New Wave’s fascination with societal and psychological underbelly. This was the tale of Etsuko (Ruriko Asaoka), a beautiful but lonely widow who’s the centre of attention of the three men around her – wealthy patriarch and her ageing father-in-law (Nobuo Nakamura) who she’s become a mistress to, her cuckolded brother-in-law who lives off his father’s money and fervently worships her, and the young but impoverished family gardener Saburo (Tetsuo Ishidate) who she starts getting drawn to. With her awareness of the effect she has on the men around her, her raging earthy desires and dripping sensuality, the constant sense of repression, male gaze and chauvinism she is subjected to, and the jealousy, anger, barely suppressed vindictiveness, and propensity for ruthless violence that she grapples with and finally loses out to, made Etsuko a complex, brilliantly developed character; Asaoka did full justice to it with her riveting performance that began on a simmering but calm note and rose to a fever pitch at the climax, hints to which, interestingly, had been provided in the disturbing first scene itself. The film comprised of varying narrative choices, including striking montages, inner monologues and inter-titles, and was brilliantly photographed in B/W through disorienting mix of chiaroscuro, canted camera angles, overhead shots, delicate close-ups and even some blazing colour images.

Director: Koreyoshi Kurahara
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Post-Noir
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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