Jokyo, A Woman’s Testament (1960) by Kon Ichikawa, Yasuzô Masumura, Kōzaburō Yoshimura

Three stories about three women who all trade in secrets and lies. All three work in professions where appearances, allure of sex, and making money are key to survival.

The first one in particular dazzled me (dir by Kon Ichikawa) with its brothel setting. It’s fascinating to think Wong Kar Wai practically lifted his romantic aesthetic from these 60’s films: the cramped spaces, the shallow depth of field, the aesthetic femininity, the brutish men, and even the brooding writer character. But there is not quite any poetry here. These are simple tales, basic in their development, but rather concise in their themes.

They are all designed to convey a good-natured positive resolution for their characters. In that way, they are simplistic. But they undoubtedly evoke a kind of timeless humanity. Not quite essential, but at the very least touching.

Is it really a man’s world where women pretend the opposite sex is in charge? I recently watched an interview with British director Mike Leigh where he alluded to this being the underlying theme of all his films. I’m not sure where to go from here, but it’s highly refreshing to see character depictions as balanced as in this film, as opposed to the annoying and blatant American obviousness we are usually subject to.

A++

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Categories: female leads, Notes

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