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When a Woman Ascends The Stairs

  • Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars
The centrepiece of BFI Southbank’s Mikio Naruse season (see Other Cinema), this brilliant melodrama is a contender for reissue of the year. It’s a film which encapsulates the strengths of this masterly Japanese director whose work has barely been seen here. He’s known as a great director of actresses, and his signature performer Hideko Takamine is outstanding as a middle-aged hostess struggling to maintain her self-respect in the sleazy whisky-lubricated environs of Ginza’s bar circuit, as she wrestles with the dilemma that the admirers who could offer her financial security demand her ‘reputation’ in exchange. Battling to support her family and keep her own long-suppressed emotions in check, each night that she climbs the stairs to smile at the clientele is a painful reminder of her limited options. Fascinating as social study, painstakingly assured as storytelling, this compares with Sirk’s ‘All That Heaven Allows’ and Fassbinder’s ‘Fear Eats the Soul’ as a heartbreaking portrait of a defiant woman outflanked by the repressive mores around her. A new classic.
Written by Trevor Johnston

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 29 June 2007
  • Duration:110 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Mikio Naruse
  • Screenwriter:Ryuzo Kikushima
  • Cast:
    • Hideko Takamine
    • Masayuki Mori
    • Reiko Dan
    • Tatsuya Nakadai
    • Daisuke Kato
    • Ganjiro Nakamura
    • Eitaro Ozawa
    • Keiko Awaji
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