Yoji Yamada's LOVE AND HONOR
A young samurai lives comfortably with his wife in an apartment on the grounds of a rich, aged feudal lord. His complaint: his job as a royal food taster leaves him dissatisfied and longing for more challenging and personally rewarding responsibilities. Then one day he tastes a dish prepared with spoiled shellfish, he takes ill, and after three days in a coma, he wakes up permanently blinded.
What will he do now? How will he and his beautiful young wife survive? What does this mean for their relationship? What kinds of pressures will she face as she confronts their situation and the need to maintain an income? What will the loyal elderly servant who has practically raised the young samurai from childhood do now as he deals with a master who is increasingly withdrawn, angry, depressed, and prone to despair?
That’s the story. What might have been a cliched and mawkish Hollywood weeper instead emerges as a sensitive, honest, and elegant examination of how a few people deal with adversity within the constraints of a formally structured and class-conscious society.
Performances, music, and photography are universally excellent. This is a character study from start to finish. By the end of the film we feel we know these people and have learned to understand their feelings and behavior.
Review copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald