First off, I have to say that I watched the movie as a bad quality copy with no subs and that of course, I have already pre-ordered my copy of the Special Edition that comes out in June or July! That said, even despite the really bad copy of the movie, with a watermark running through it, it was a pleasure to watch it.
I think everyone knows by now what this movie is about, but here is a short no spoilery recap:
Shinnojo and Kayo are married and live a quiet yet satisfied life in the shadow of the local daimyo. Shinnojo who dreams about opening a kendo school for children, works as a food taster to the daimyo and the monotony of his job really dissatisfies him. One day, due to poisonous seafood prepared out of season, he is poisoned and even though he battles the poisoning, he ends up blind. As he loses all zest to live, his wife shoulders the responsibility of their small family. When she is forced to sleep with an official to grant her husband a life pension, Shinnojo repudiates her and challenges the offender ...( possible spoilers so it is under a cut - BUT, you can read the review without the cut, it still makes sense :) )
There are so many small scenes that have a great impact and the cast, especially Kimura Takuya and Ran Dei, impress very much. To tell you the truth I was a bit edgy when I heard Kimura was the lead in this big production. Yes, he IS a good actor, and he can certainly carry a movie, but the role of Shinnojo is so totally different from everything he has played before. Here, he is not the romantic lead or the dashing ice-hockey player, or the abused murderer. Additionally, for the most part of this movie, Kimura cannot rely on his eyes. Normally, he expresses a lot through his eyes - a look, a wink, a blink. But in Bushi no Ichibun
he is blind, and you actually accept this and believe him that he is blind. Kimura pulls it off with a certainty, a quiet intenseness that leaves you in awe.
Ran Dei portrays Kayo both as a strong woman as well as the fragile flower. Her confession to Shinnojo is painful to watch, but she leaves nothing out, doesn't gloss over the fact she was raped and that she should
have known what the official had been after. But she endured it all for Shinnojo's sake.
Yamada has created a masterpiece, Bushi no Ichibun
and certainly the best of the trilogy. All comes together here, the cinematography, the acting, the sets. It all gells to a wonderful and wondrous movie. It is very quiet, very Japanese, very Zen. The movie is set almost always either in the dimly lit house of Shinnojo or their garden with its blooms, trees and shrubs and the changing of seasons. It is more what we in Germany call Kammerspiel
(intimate play) than a grand movie with many different characters and locations. Due to the enclosure of society as well as the limitation of space (locations) Yamada creates a very intense movie that draws you in and makes you think about it even long after the credits have rolled off.
I'm so looking forward to this movie with subtitles, it will be a pleasure to watch it again with the additional in depth understanding of the characters.