Thursday 16 August 2012

Intentions of Murder (Unholy Desire) [1964]

Intentions of Murder formed the final chapter of a thematically linked trilogy also comprising of Pigs & Battleships and The Insect Woman, ingeniously named by Criterion as Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes. That said, Imamura’s pet explorations of the grotesque, of women who are moved more by carnality than morality, and of people, devoid of gentility or elegance, residing at the very edge of Japanese society, have abounded throughout his filmography. The film’s central protagonist is Sadako (Masumi Harukawa), a bored, plump, lower-middle class lady married to Koichi (Ko Nishimura), her grumpy common-law husband who is having an affair on the sly with his comically bespectacled colleague. Hiraoka (Shigeru Tsuyuguchi), an asthmatic drummer in a seedy bar, invades into her place one not so fine day with the intent of stealing, but ends of raping her. She initially plans to commit suicide, but instead starts getting curiously attracted to the moody vagabond despite her outwardly protestations; interestingly, he fell in love with her the moment he violated her. Meanwhile Koichi’s enamored mistress takes on the mission of revealing Sadako’s double life to him. With this intriguing, Hitchcockian plot Imamura set into play a fascinating study of the sordid and baser human instincts while audaciously turning genre-tropes on their heads. Brilliantly photographed, filled with gleefully twisted imageries, and comprising of excellent performances led front the front by the brilliant Harukawa as the deeply complex anti-heroine, Imamura managed to combine pitch-black humour and wry irony with humanistic undertones and layered social commentaries into a rewarding whole. He sure knew how to subtly counterbalance sleaze with beauty.

Director: Shohei Imamura
Genre: Drama/Black Comedy/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama/Romance
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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