Directed by Mikio Naruse
Written by Mikio Naruse, Sumie Tanaka, and Saisei Murô
Cast: Kyôko Kagawa, Sô Yamamura, Isao Kimura, Daisuke Katô, Keiju Kobayashi, Shizue Natsukawa, Hiroshi Tachikawa and Yû Fujiki
The daughter of a famous writer marries a young writer after turning down many potential suitors. But, it doesn’t take long before the marriage heads down a dark path.
Little Peach is one of the most uncompromising films I’ve seen to delve into the turmoils of writing and domestic life. Kyoko finds herself at the center of a struggle between her loving father and her insecure husband. The struggle is actually one sided; it’s fueled by her paranoid husband who believes his father-in-law doesn’t wish him success and wants him to fail.
Before the drama sets in; the story starts very idyllically. Everyone is happy about what the future will bring in. However, the uncertainties of marriage create a sense of foreboding. The dialogue before Kyoko is married is rather shrewd enough to foreshadow future predicaments. Kyoko’s father, Heishiro Hirayama’s sage-like advice acts as the movie’s themes and morals. It’s a bit unsettling how formal and ritualistic the entire courtship between Kyoko and Ryokichi is. There isn’t even an inkling of typical romantic movie fluff to their courtship. Kyoko’s apprehension about her courtship sets the tone the marriage will head down. Curiously enough, despite how the overly formal the entire courtship was; the actual wedding ceremony is never shown. Implying the marriage lacks a certain legimtacy foundation from the onset.
Kyoko is a serene young woman who is very much her father’s daughter. Of course, that ends up becoming a curse for her; as her husband views her more like her father’s shadow than her own independent person. She is a vulnerable woman that hasn’t still outgrown her inner-child. Seeing Kyoko exposed to such hardship and humiliation is distressing.
Ryokichi Urushiyama is a man consumed by his dreams. A dream to be a great writer. He is a victim of his weakness and bad circumstances. Ryokichi’s focus on his dreams makes him unable to connect with his long suffering wife. Ryokichi’s life is probably proof that passion to be something great is not always a good thing. He is a pathetic figure, but there are remains pieces of a heartfelt
and broken man there somewhere.
Heishiro Hirayama, the man who is treated like a demigod by those around him. Heishiro remains unfazed despite the amount of bad news thrown at him. He has known hardship before, but since Heishiro has achieved success; Heishiro has become a disciplined figure. In a way, Heishiro is self-centered, he casts no judgment or offers no advice for his son in law’s writings. Heishiro believes it isn’t his place to do so. Ironically, this cold shoulder increases the uncertainty if Ryokichi will achieve success or not.
Films about a shabby domestic life are no rarity. Little Peach using the grueling experience of writing as its principal source of conflict is strangely more authentic. This isn’t any biopic about a famous writer, and the film is even downright pessimistic about Ryokichi’s abilities as a writer. The dreadful revelation that all of Ryokichi’s hard work will be for nothing always lingers on. The ever increasing sad state of the marriage becomes like a harsh reminder of how far these people are from happiness. Even the tension between wife and husband become consumed by writing. Kyoko tells Ryokichi, he can happily divorce her if he manages to get published.
The ending is a curious one. It isn’t exactly uplifting or full of despair. The ending despite being left in ambiguity has a strong pragmatic and moral message.
Little Peach is a spiraling melodrama that’s both an uncompromising portrayal of a possible ill-fated marriage and writing career.