Repast

Ozu's muse Setsuko Hara adds her memorable luminescence to Naruse's sly critique of love, estrangement, and marriage in middle-class Japan. Office drone Okamoto (Ken Uehara) and his wife Michiyo (Hara) drag themselves through the days, with Okamoto finding periodic joys in shiny new shoes and Michiyo, alas, finding it nowhere at all. Their downcast reveries are interrupted by the arrival of Michiyo's flirty niece Satoko, whose bright dresses and snappy little headbands prove far shinier than Okamoto's shoes, and alluring enough to drive a wedge through what's left of the couple's marriage. Naruse's first adaptation of the work of feminist author Fumiko Hayashi, Repast is more vividly described by its secondary title, A Married Life. Richly capturing the atmosphere of a fading love, Naruse coolly films the conversations that never begin, the gazes that never end, but also the habits, and hope, that keep such loves alive.

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