The late great Kuroki Kazuo's The Youth of Kamiyo Etsuko presents a stirring conclusion to four decades of filmmaking. Director Kuroki passed away in April 2006, months before the release of this critically acclaimed film. Continuing with the themes of Tomorrow, Utsukushii Natsu Kirishima, and Face of Jizo, The Youth of Kamiyo Etsuko delves into the lives of ordinary Japanese people during the closing days of WWII. Based on a play by Matsuda Masataka, the film is strong, simple, and austerely shot, eschewing bells and whistles for a direct, affecting story and realistic, raw emotions. Though wartime worries underlie the story, Kuroki also brings out the humor of banality and futility with an accomplished screenplay that is sentimental, yet surprisingly lighthearted. Stars Nagase Masatoshi (The Hidden Blade), Harada Tomoyo (Until the Lights Come Back), and Matsuoka Shunsuke (Black Kiss) deliver subtle, affecting performances, capturing the lives and perspectives of both ordinary people trying to cope and young soldiers fighting a war they can't win.
Having already lost her parents in an air raid, young Kamiya Etsuko (Harada Tomoyo) lives with her brother and his wife in the rural town of Kagoshima. Air force officers Nagayo (Nagase Masatoshi), whom Etsuko's brother wants to set her up with, and Akashi (Matsuoka Shunsuke), whom she has long admired, come to visit. Unexpectedly, Etsuko's brother is transferred to another town, leaving Etsuko alone to entertain her two visitors and conflicting feelings. Though she is attracted to Nagoya's earnest personality, Etsuko's heart remains with Akashi. But everything changes when Akashi volunteers for a suicide mission.
This edition comes with a Kuroki Kazuo retrospective and trailers.
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