Learn from Experience, Parts I and II

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Dan Sallitt

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Mar 6, 2010, 12:13:26 AM3/6/10
to NaruseRetro, meke...@kerpan.com
LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE was mentioned briefly in this now-closed thread:

http://groups.google.com/group/naruseretro/browse_thread/thread/8f04fc1c396009a5

Fairly early on, one gets the sense that this two-part adaptation (by
Fumitaka Iwasaki, of a novel by Kan Kikuchi, who also provided source
material for GATE OF HELL) spells out its issues too directly to be
Naruse's dream project. Eventually it emerges as a tearjerker about a
young woman named Toyomi (Takako Irie), impregnated and forsaken,
whose only purpose in life is to enable increasingly outrageous story
contrivances. The material actually contains some psychological
nuance, especially regarding the self-deceptions of Toyomi's weak
victimizer Shintaro (Minoru Takada), that may or may not be
attributable to Naruse. But the crazy plot does what it will,
sweeping aside petty issues of characterization.

Naruse takes refuge in the visual flourishes that he favored in this
period, and around the middle of Part I he hits an interesting, almost
Sternbergian stride, beginning and ending scenes on striking long
shots of novel locations, suspending the story in a contemplative and
dusky ambiance. (Several beautiful images seem to be photographed in
low light with high-speed film, with real light sources visible in the
frame, and movie lights used to supply highlights.) Part II has
charms as well: possibly the most evocative interlude in the film is
the depiction of the canal-side boarding house where the pregnant
Toyomi takes up residence, with unidentified boarders traversing the
shadowy hallways to the omnipresent sounds of passing boats. Still,
the tightening grip of the absurd plot squeezes the life out of Part
II and negates what little character Toyomi had been previously
given. At film's end, I mostly remembered the bad stuff.

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