Veteran Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada's 80th feature film concerns a mother living in 1940s-era Tokyo who is forced to care for her two daughters alone after her husband is jailed for expressing reformist views on the Japanese invasion of China. Professor Shigeru Nogami (Mitsugoro Bando) is an outspoken man with some particularly unpopular political views, and for his role in speaking out against the Japanese invasion of China he is promptly jailed. In the wake of his imprisonment, Professor Nogami's devoted wife, Kayo (aka Kabei, played by Sayuri Yoshinaga), is suddenly relegated to the status of single mother. As Kayo does the best to care for the couple's two young daughters, her stern policeman father (Umenosuke Nakamura) proves little help. Thankfully for Kayo and the two children, the people of the neighborhood are more concerned with the well-being of her family than her husband's political views. One of the professor's former students in particular, the clumsy but well-meaning Yamasaki (Tadanobu Asano), does his best to ensure that the Nogami family is properly cared for until the day his mentor can return. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
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This is a good film and a window into the Japanese culture before and during WW II. On the other hand, at 2 hours, 13 minutes, it is much longer than necessary to tell the story. For this westerner, it would have had at least as big an impact in 90-115 minutes.
It is a sad story, showing how Japanese Imperial ambitions brought ruin upon the common people. At the same time, one also must recall the tragedy of an estimated 12 million innocent civilians killed by the Nazis in concentration camps during WW II. How many might have been saved if the Allies had been able to concentrate all its energies on ending the war in Europe ASAP?