Wife! Be Like a Rose (Kimiko)

Wife! Be Like a Rose, one of a handful of important films of the pre-war period that is even remotely accessible to non-specialists in the West, was the first Japanese talking picture shown in New York.

Mikio Naruse, like Ozu, specialized in the shomin-geki genre of intimate films about everyday domestic problems. The story of a young woman who sets out to find the father who had abandoned her and her mother to live with an entertainer, only to find that he is content and well-loved by his common-law wife and children, carries a message of complexity - the daughter learns that there are many viable ways which people find to make life liveable - but has been hailed for the simplicity of style with which it is told. “Mark Van Doren, writing in The Nation, said: ‘the film contains a new experience for us... which comes from the whole management of the story... and I can suggest this difference best by saying that... the narrative is presented with a simplicity and a seriousness, and a certainty of effect, which reminds us of something too frequently forgotten in the movies, namely, that economy is power.... The result is one of the most moving films I know.".... One of the triumphs of Japanese sound-film is (the)... scene where the girl and her father's common-law wife look at each other, realize that words cannot express their humanly mixed feelings, and both burst into tears.”

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