Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"One Wonderful Sunday" (Language - Japanese) (1947) - Movie Review

This might be one of the few films where Kurosawa handles romance and this might be one of those few films he should have put a period to the movie well before its actual end. Kurosawa takes on a low income couple who meet once per week on a Sunday. This Sunday is going to be full of high and low, mostly low. With his usual care for characters, Kurosawa puts these two couples in to the post war city with bad economy and tough living conditions. What we get is a good film spoiled by an extended indulgence.

In a morning with crowds flowing outside the train station comes the Masako (Chieko Nakakita), the woman full of dreams and prospect. Her boyfriend Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) is not particularly lit up today. He has hit the wall. The money is low and he is getting impatient on their marriage being postponed due to their financial condition of not able to afford a place of their own. The day begins with Yuzo hesitating to pick up a half smoked cigarette, which he indeed picks up only to be stopped by Masako. Both have a job which pays them enough to feed each other but not to get a place. As their one day per week date begins, both totally have thirty five yens which I believe is next to nothing to conduct a happy date. But Masako has hopes while Yuzo has droopy face.

Together they begin to wander around the town. Masako is full of energy. If Yuzo says there is no use in seeing a cheap house, she goes in and makes him see the place. She fantasizes the interior decorations of this out of reach house. Yuzo sees with disdain and wonders why bother with these burdens of expectations. He has seen enough reality that dreams are only to strengthen the power of imminent disaster. Masako though wants to make the best of the little time they have got together. Yuzo tries his best to match up the spirits of his lover but one after another the surroundings and the nature of the coincidence plans with perfection to spoil it.

The film has these two characters whose love is tested on this day. Yuzo goes to the shell of self pity, agony and hopelessness. Still what makes this film almost a sweet ride is the petty adventures they spontaneously go after. When they go to enquire a place for rent, the attender of that place discourage the couple of not take it. But he does not know that they are ready for anything. They come out and assessing their income only gives the obvious result of their inability to even rent the worst place in the town. They sit and a ball comes along. Suddenly Yuzo ventures to join in the street baseball game with the kids. Then he tries to visit a well off war buddy who owns a Cabaret. There merely mentioning the name of his buddy gets him a strange treatment. By his attire, he is taken underground and is fed drinks and food. They do not let him to see his friend or his friend has arranged such thing for his old poor buddies to get a third class treatment. Kurosawa tells the social status of the time when the war left its stain in the economy.

“One Wonderful Sunday” appears to be the origin of the one day love stories. Though the funny moments are short lived and the failure in making their Sunday a worthwhile pleasurable time fades away with every instant. They decide to go for a concert and the black marketing people buy all the tickets to sell the ten yens for fifteen yens. A mere confrontation ruins the day further. This summates in an ugly fight between the couple where the reunion should put an end. Instead Kurosawa sees something beyond the common social romance. He begins to go deeper into the sappiness, awkwardness of the changed man in to an exhibition of cheesy sentiments. As the man desperately conducts an invisible orchestra and the woman trying her best to cheer him up and in fact asks us the audience to applaud becomes a pathetic display to punch the crowd to cry.

“One Wonderful Sunday” is a melody gone wrong in playing the cute love story with the social commentary into a desperate beseech for sympathy. The acting though surpasses despite the failure of the film. Both Isao Numasaki and Chieko Nakakita give their great performance even in the most dismal situation in the end. Their Yuzo and Masako are lovable lovers whom we would like to have dinner with. But when the final amphitheater scene comes along, we wipe out any idea about that dinner we planned on.

1 comment:

LezDawson said...

Sorry, but this review needs to be proof-read by an English person. There are several parts that are impossible to understand what you are trying to say.
Thanks anyway for reviewing this early Kurosawa. :)