Woman of the Lake / Onna no mizuumi
Directed by Kiju Yoshida
Japan, 1966, B&W, 94 min.
Showtime: Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 6:30 PM
Japan Society' s film series Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties concludes on Sunday, April 18th with two films starring Mariko Okada. Woman of the Lake will be shown first, at 6:30 PM. A separate screening, with a separate admission charge, of Two Wives will follow at 8:45 PM. I'll be putting up a separate post about Two Wives.
For now, let's take a look at Woman of the Lake, first the description of it from the Japan Society Website, then my impression based on the DVD screener I watched. (Again note that the link immediately below for the Japan Society Website also provides for purchasing tickets online if you desire.)
Japan Society Website:
Based on a novel by Nobel prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, Kiju Yoshida’s film approaches the topic of sexual encounters in the manner of a fogbound documentary and the nocturnal gravity of a requiem. In this surrealist erotic story reminiscent of Antonioni’s visual universe and some of Bergman’s formal experiments, it is indeed hard to tell where character ends and texture begins—so much of the film seems to unfold near the skin.
Here, Okada’s trademark character—a woman of quiet intensity and strong will, yet fumbling for undefined sexual fulfillment—takes a lover to escape the somber dissatisfaction of her loveless marriage. One night, she allows him to take nude pictures of her, but the negatives are soon stolen and she faces threats of blackmail from an anonymous stranger. She complies with the blackmailer’s demands and travels to recover the negatives, embarking on a journey that soon aligns her darkest desires with those of her shadowy aggressor.
ACF Review Thoughts:
This is the final film starring Okada that I had a screener for, so I'll use this as an opportunity for some general comments about the three of her films I've seen as well as about Woman of the Lake specifically.
First off, I've fallen in love with this actress. At times she looks a bit like a Japanese version of young Natalie Wood, circa West Side Story. But there's an icy coolness - not to be confused with lack of emotion - that reminds me of Grace Kelly. It's not for nothing that her segment of the series has been deemed The Discreet Charm of the Adultress, and nobody I know of pulls off the inner conflicts that often accompany an adulterous affair better than Okada.
Also, unless a double was used - which I doubt - she had the most gorgeous, long slim fingers I've ever seen on celluloid, or in real life for that matter.
There's an intriguing segment in the film where Okada's character and her blackmailer come across a film crew working along a shoreline. I'm a sucker for these kind of scenes and thought it worked very well here.
Woman of the Lake gets a 3.5 out of 4 star ACF Rating; very highly recommended. It's my favorite of the three Okada films I've seen, edging out The Affair by just a hair.
possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.