Mizu de kakareta monogatari (1965)

7 03 2009

Yoshida’s getting warmer with this one, but he still has yet to live up to Joen / The Affair. Some of his trademark themes are already well established in this, his first real “art” film, but they aren’t approached with the same confidence of his later films. On the other hand, some of the lame surrealistic touches, so prevalent in his later films, are toned down a bit here. From time to time, the film seems to have a very laid back approach, almost the antithesis of the precise, structured mentality of Yoshida’s most renowned efforts.

This was actually Yoshida’s second collaboration with his wife-to-be Mariko Okada, but their first film, Akitsu Springs is a much more “classier” one. Maybe some melodrama carried over into the next part of Yoshida’s career, but their first collaboration shares very little in common with the usually transgressive aesthetic of the Japanese New Wave. It is here that Yoshida first begins to show signs of what he’s known and loved for – formally driven, sensual, and bizarre depictions of some of the most dysfunctional relationships in all of cinema.

The story here, which is filled with some beautifully rendered ellipses, follows a young man about to enter a marriage. He begins to think back to his childhood and the incestuous experiences he shared with his mother, as well as other various sexual scenarios. Although there are very little dramatic “events” in the narrative itself, there is an overwhelming sense of heavy tension underscoring the chronologically scattered sequences. No doubt about it, the elliptical nature of the narrative definitely gives Yoshida’s world a much needed boost of energy. It’s not so much that his characters are quiet, but instead that I constantly get an overwhelmingly ponderous tone from their interactions.

I might be mistakened, but I’m pretty confident that Joen had at least a few ellipses here and there. I guess in my continuing search for a Yoshida film that lives up to it, I forgot to factor in this technique. In all of my recent Yoshida viewings, the story proceeds in a very straightforward and simple fashion. This is fine, I suppose, but it doesn’t exactly compliment Yoshida’s extremely formalistic style. Instead, it kind of clashes with it. That’s not the case here, however as the story consistently shifts between past and present and constantly builds a more complete picture of its central protagonists. In fact, I’d say the characters here are the most fleshed-out I’ve seen in any Yoshida film, which has to count for something. That said, Joen remains my favorite, but I’ve also been reassured of Yoshida’s talent.



2 responses

6 04 2009

I just saw this film last night and found your post on it shortly afterwards. I agree that Jyouen is the strongest of Yoshida-san’s films I’ve seen from the new wave period but I just saw a screening of The Women in the Mirror and felt that it had an incredible eerie intensity. Just wondering if you’ve had a chance to see that film as it is enthralling in its psychological intricacies.

9 04 2009
Jake Savage

Is that the one from 2002? It always seemed like the least interesting of Yoshida’s films, but I know have more of an incentive to see it. I’ll definitely make it a priority. Thanks for the comment!

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