Saturday, May 21, 2011

Praise for Sudden Rain

From CriterionForum Re: Mikio Naruse:

Just watched Sudden Rain: I haven't checked have you reviewed it here Michael, but I would rank it firmly in the top rank of his mature Masterpieces.

Its a beautiful blend of drama and humour, not unlike late Ozu films such as An Autumn Afternoon, Floating Weeds, and Good Morning. In fact it might be the closest in tone to an Ozu film that I've seen.

But dramatically, and thematically, especially in the 'battle of the sexes', its far more mature in its approach than any Ozu I can recall (I was also reminded, to a certain extent of Bergman's Scenes From A Marriage).

What might be Naruse's greatest achievement here is his masterly switching from humour to drama, not least because it never seems artificial, nor does the blend ever jar.

The external scenes, which are beautifully shot, aren't solely as relief to the claustrophobia of the domestic scenes, which tended to hamper Bergman, somewhat, and betrayed his film's television origins, but they help both to provide a broader perspective of the environment of the marriage, and extend the 'arena'.

It goes without saying that Setsuko Hara gives another outstanding performance but Shuji Sano as the husband gives as good as he gets.

Also features an outstanding supporting cast, featuring plenty of scene stealers.

A beautiful final scene; the neighbours comments are telling, albeit unnecessary.

Highly recommended; as with almost every Naruse I've seen, I can't wait to watch this one again (even with a less than optimum print).

Michael Kerpan:

Sudden Rain is a film that was generally considered "minor Naruse" — and it is certainly more relaxed than its predecessor Floating Clouds — but I really was won over by this even on first viewing. Hara is allowed to exhibit a bit more of her comic side — and does it well. Her travails due to the neighborhood mongrel are pretty funny. I wouldn't put this in my very top tier of Naruse films — but it fits into my second (loved almost as much tier).


That sub-plot is interesting in a number of ways, as well as being a useful plot device: it serves to introduce a host of mostly-humorous characters; it portrays the type of discord it provoked in the neighbourhood, — and that meeting reminded me of neighbourhood meetings I've participated in — ; but it also served to compound her domestic woes.

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