Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
Written by Zenzô Matsuyama and Masahiro Shinoda
Cast: Chieko Baishô, Isao Kimura, Noriko Maki and Sadako Sawamura
A young woman is scolded by her sister to marry for love and her parents to marry for money. She must decide to marry for money or love.
Marriage is supposed to be a gateway to a better life. For those stuck in poverty, this may hold to be even truer. Such is the case for Keiko, a marvelously beautiful woman. Keiko stands on the threshold of her life. There are so many choices around her. The choice to live the easy life quickly by sinking her morals or stick to her morals by living the hard life. Keiko wants to live the middle-class life and wants a true romance as well. Keiko is hounded by her parents to marry her off to the union leader’s son life to save their business. Her parents see little value in the notion of love. While, on the other hand, her plucky sister Saeko is convinced that the poor hardworking Kamakura is her ”true love”. But, another suitor comes to the forefront: Matsumoto a reformed peddler now trying to live the life of an honest businessman. The dilemma of the person that Keiko will pick forms much of the plot. There is more to this simple plot that meets the surface. The story and its theme do a great job at embodying the hopes and dreams of post-war Japan.
The cinematography is spellbinding. From the claustrophobic homes to the vast and open outdoors, the cinematography is well shot. The daily lives of everyone is well-represented here. The presence of the domineering industrial factories onscreen is enough to make that place undesirable. Seeing characters hopeful about their futures against the backdrop of factories makes the factories rather frightening; probably just because the thought of anyone spending their whole lives working in a factory is frightening. The toils of working near the seaside is reflected well with the detailed open shots of the coastline. The glamour of the urban world is in good form too.
The supporting cast is interesting. Not only the supporting cast are interesting on their own merit, but they are a nice reflection of the whims and desire of the main characters. The story of the supposed couple living happily married in poverty provides a nice little introspection for the two sisters. It’s amazingly brief, but its impact remains heartfelt. And, Keiko’s high school friend ends up being a walking cautionary tale about avoiding a particular lifestyle.
It runs a little more than one hour, yet, there is little to no underdeveloped characters. In a lesser film, Keiko’s love interests would have been paper thin characters, but they aren’t. Minus, the union leader’s son, but his impact on the story is quite big despite only being mentioned.
There is much genuine sentimentality here that isn’t bogged down by fanciful fluff. Let’s just say, the straight path isn’t as straight as it looks. The person that Keiko chooses to marry is like a sign of the hidden maturity awoken within her. Saeko is treated to the same journey as his sister. Saeko’s story is unbelievably subtle. But, Saeko’s story is so intertwined with Keiko’s story that the result ends up feeling so natural. Saeko’s pestering of Keiko is more self-reflective that Saeko could ever realize.
Our Marriage tackles the topic of poverty in such a clear and concise way without ever being utterly hopeless or too idealistic. The simple story doesn’t undermine its strong themes and characters.