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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chiisai Ouchi (aka The Little House) (2014)

Set in Japan during the period 1931-1945. As Japan slowly but surely marches toward war, a married woman (Takako Matsu) and a younger man (Hidetaka Yoshioka) engage in an illicit affair that can't end well. But the story is told from the perspective of the household's naive young maid (Haru Kuroki). But it does't end there as their affair will have a far reaching effect on those who live after them. Based on the novel by Kyoko Nakajima and directed by Yoji Yamada (TWILIGHT SAMURAI), this is an incredibly lovely film. Slightly reminiscent of ATONEMENT (2007), it's a rich and detailed period piece framed by a contemporary narrative. The present day story has a more natural look to it while the period story is beautifully shot by Masashi Chikamori in vivid colors and amber glows in what appears to be on a sound stage, even its exteriors which gives it a slightly stylized "old movie" quality. Yamada emphasizes this by the discretion in portraying the affair which is played out off screen without any sex or love scenes. I'm frustrated that I can't do the film justice verbally because so much of the film's art is in the details rather than the narrative. But if you're interested in quality cinema, this should not be missed. The lovely score is by Joe Hisaishi (HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE). With Takataro Kataoka, Satoshi Tsumabuki and Chieko Baisho.

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