Monday, May 9, 2016
THE STORY OF THE LAST CHRYSANTHEMUMS (1939)
Tokyo, 1888. Kikunosuke Onoue is a pampered douchebag. He's the adopted son of one of Japan's greatest Kabuki actors and although he can't act to save his dick from falling off he's still very popular thanks to his famous father. Also, instead of trying to hone his craft he goes out partying all the time. One evening his family's maid, Otoku, tells him that he sucks and that everybody makes fun of him behind his back. Kikunosuke's pride is hurt, but he is so "happy" about Otoku's honesty that he falls in love and wants to marry her! His parents are horrified that he would try to disgrace the family name with such a scandal and after an argument Kikunosuke leaves town to make it on his own. Now living with Otoku he still sucks at acting (but not as much) and they are dirt poor. He also slaps her around. Five years go by and Kikunosuke is still a dick, but he's gotten better at acting and is now ready to make his triumphant return to Tokyo. Unfortunately, things don't turn out so well for Otoku.
I'm a fan of Kenji Mizoguchi (UGETSU is one of the greatest things I've ever seen), but THE STORY OF THE LAST CHRYSANTHEMUMS did nothing for me. Maybe I'm too grumpy, but Kikunosuke's immature dickishness was too much for me. The dude was just as insufferable at the end of the film as he was at the beginning! Maybe that's the point, but I still don't have to like it.
Maybe I'll revisit this film in a few years when I'm more mature and wiser but as of right now, while I appreciated the craftsmanship that went in to the making of the film (although I didn't care for the 100% use of wide shots), I didn't care for it overall.