'Flowing' is a moving, beautifully made story centered around the demise of a long established geisha house, drowned under mounting debts. We witness the story largely through the eyes of the new maid Rika (Kinuyo Tenaka) as the elegant but unworldly mistress of the house Otsuta (Isuzu Yamata) tries to save her business. In this she is aided by her more worldly daughter Katsuyo (Hideko Takamine), but she is undermined by her hard-nosed older sister and an apparently sympathetic senior geisha guild member. There is really nothing to this story - just an episode in the death of an older world, but its told with great sensitivity and not a little humour. There is a very funny scene where two drunken geisha joke about how little they have to do to make their money. But the overwhelming feeling is nostalgia and sadness as these women fight the dying of their business in a harsh world where women without husbands are thrown onto their own devices. It is also unusual in that it deals honestly and frankly with the aging process and the fear of poverty in old age. The reputation of Naruse seems to be increasing all the time - he is surely in the top rank of directors. This is the first of his movies that I've seen, but I would definitely want to see more. Every scene is beautifully framed with lovely sets and wonderful, naturalistic acting. There is a rare sense of authenticity about this movie. It is worth seeing both as an example of a terrific movie (it is genuinely compelling and entertaining) and a fascinating insight into another world. Strongly recommended both for film buffs who want to know more about this fine director, and for anyone interested in Japanese culture.
Otsuta is running the geisha house Tsuta in Tokyo. Her business is heavily in debt. Her daughter Katsuyo doesn't see any future in her mothers trade in the late days of Geisha. But Otsuta ...
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June 8, 2019