Sound of the Mountain

For this film in his “marriage cycle,” about disintegrating relationships in a changing world, Naruse adapted one of Nobel Prize–winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata's best-known works into a knowing, profoundly moving account of a woman's loneliness. The ancient seaside town of Kamakura, where the novelist himself lived, here functions as a suburb of Tokyo with its sleepy streets and stay-at-home wives contrasted to the city's brisk if tainted lifestyle. The story tells of the deep and complex relationship that develops between Kikuko, a young wife betrayed by her philandering husband, and Shingo, her father-in-law, with whom the couple live. The ensemble playing of Setsuko Hara with Ken Uehara as the husband and So Yamamura as his father is as delicate as it is devastating. The film ends rather mysteriously on the word “perspective,” which is not the same as closure.

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