What’s it about:
It’s about love, devotion, and sacrifice. It’s about finding purpose and hidden reserves of inner strength, and it’s about living a life of purpose and authenticity.
What I liked about it:
1. The buildup. After watching Setsuko Hara in all those Ozu movies, seeing her become almost unrecognizable as a peasant farmer in No Regrets for Our Youth and sitting through all the tension, drama, and melodrama that accompanies her transformation seems positively brutal. Yet with her transformation and re-emergence comes catharsis, and that eventual catharsis is totally worth the ride.
2. The beauty and strength of Setsuko Hara. Noriko may get a little petulant, but this is a Setsuko Hara I’d never seen before. Gorgeous, but also flirtatious, pouty, and even cruel. And in the end an unstoppable force of nature with a strength that is external, physical, and drawn from defiance rather than quiet internal reserve.
A bit off the beaten path perhaps in terms of Kurosawa’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, a remarkable film and a must for Hara fans.