Love Letter (Tanaka Kinuyo, 1953)
her debut as director, a career decision that made Mizoguchi cut all ties with her. what an arsehole. a man earns money translating and writing love letters for women to their GI boyfriends. the letters are supremely poetic, fitting if not a sentiment of love then the desperation for survival they’re sent out with; and fitting the lovelorn heart of the translator. and guess who he meets doing this but the cause of that lovelorn, who he lost contact with during the war and whose letter to him he’d been carrying around all this time.
not as delicate as the Mizoguchi, Naruse, Ozu troika but not everything has to be. it hits. it also has with it this wonderful emphasis on hostesses, waitresses, shop girls, nurses, prostitutes, etc. as if to highlight post war/occupation Japan’s saviours and shoulder-bearers: its women. full of compassion, full of reality, full of stars. Tanaka herself cameos as a landlady; Ryu Chishu cameos as Man Cloak-Checking His Hat.