Mikio Naruse is another of those somewhat obscure filmmakers—popular enough in his native Japan, less known outside of it—whose reputation has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence thanks to DVD. I have this from BFI, and MoC and Criterion have a few more, but this seems to be regarded as his best (third greatest Japanese film of all time, indeed, according to Kinema Jumpo, behind Seven Samurai and Tokyo Story)… and, well, to be honest, if it is then I’m now a bit wary of his others. Not that it’s actually bad as such, obviously, but I’m not feeling the love. Of course, this could be said of the film’s romantic “couple”, too, I don’t feel the love there either… and it’s even arguable whether or not they do; apparently one critic has said it’s like they’re both in love with each other, just not both at the same time. He and she meet in Indochina during the war, romance ensues, but the war ends and the Japanese get turfed out. They meet in Tokyo, but things aren’t the same as they were before Japan lost; work and money is hard to find and both of them have somewhat differing views on how to get by. This sense of drift in their lives carries over into the drift of the story, the aimlessness of which parallels that of the characters but also added to my frustration with the film. Ultimately, though, most of my frustration stemmed from the strangely not terribly appealing couple; the idea of them being out of synch with each other as described above certainly illustrates part of the issue, but I never felt that the film really explained why they ever fell for each other in the first place let alone why they kept going back to each other. Hoped for more, didn’t really get it.
Floating Clouds (1955)