Wife! Be Like a Rose!

Naruse's best-known film of the thirties is a bittersweet comedy in the shomin-geki genre (intimate films about everyday domestic problems) in which Naruse, like Ozu, specialized. The story concerns the efforts of a young office worker to bring her estranged parents back together. She finds her father, who long ago deserted the family to live with an ex-geisha, content and well loved by his common-law wife and children. With its witty young heroine (played by Sachiko Chiba, Naruse's wife) and its "happy ending," Wife! Be Like a Rose! seems atypical of Naruse's films, most of which observe their heroines becoming tougher, if sadder, as they chart their way through an unfriendly world. But in this wonderful film, Naruse utilizes a deceptively simple style to examine from many angles the stifling nature of family life and the many ways that people find to make it livable.

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