Directed by Kirio Urayama
Written by Kirio Urayama and Toshirô Ishidô
Cast: Mitsuo Hamada, Masako Izumi, Toshio Sugiyama, Toshio Takahara and Fukuko Sayo
A neglected teenage girl caught in the bad cycle of bad parenting and terrible poverty attempts to reform herself after meeting with an old childhood friend who sparks a sense of change in her.
“Youth is the seed time of good habits”, or as the saying goes. A person’s childhood and upbringing tends to decide the type of character a person will have as an adult. Wakae is a young teenager caught in the cycle of bad parenting and terrible poverty. A dark cloud is rising over Wakae’s future due to the bad circumstances she is in. Wakae’s downward spiral to an unending destructive lifestyle is deeply unsettling to us because I feel like we know almost instinctually she doesn’t deserve it. Wakae’s youthful but stern beautiful face is more than enough to convey that she is a tortured soul in need of a rescue. But, Wakae is far from a simple damsel in distress. Bad Girl would be a rather pedestrian teen romance if some man simply fixed all of Wakae’s troubles. Luckily, Bad Girl has more than enough sense and thought to be more than that. There is a romance at the heart of the film, but it’s handled with the utmost sincerity and maturity. Films have an odd tendency to think youthful optimism for romance is enough to overcome any problems. Bad Girl realizes relationships are troubles of their own and can complicate matters even more. This uncompromising sincerity into the portrayal of the romance makes the entire film a powerful life lesson.
The story belongs to Saburo as much as Wakae. The essence of Bad Girl is in a way about the highs and lows of Saburo and Wakae’s lives intersecting each other. This mirroring transforms a rather typical romance into something greater. Saburo starts the title as Wakae’s savior, but his own childish optimism and holier than thou attitude is forced to endure a trial by fire. Saburo endures a journey no less harsh than his love Wakae. Saburo isn’t the product of an impoverished household like Wakae, but a firm middle-class background. Even, Saburo’s life falls into despair. The world doesn’t discriminate when it wants to spread its misery. But moreover, it shows poverty isn’t the simple result of nature vs nurture. By the same merit, poverty doesn’t completely determine a person’s destiny. So, a person with enough righteousness and perseverance can be in control of their destiny. The striking parallels between Saburo and Wakae resonate with that humanist message. It is the particular highlight and purpose of their growth and development.
A special highlight of the cinematography besides the intense close ups is the particular focus on the environment around them. Establishing shot take a bit longer than usual. Extras during some scenes react more to the main characters than one might expect.
The world around them does a great job at conveying their emotions at particular moments. From the serene beach acting as their birthplace for their naive hopes and dreams to the train station at the finale that marks a new beginning for the both of them.
When Bad Girl finally winds down to a close, it is a skillful drama driven by genuine pathos. This pathos is used for some excellent self-reflection. Bad Girl is an amazing self-reflective piece that emerges out of its heartfelt story to escape poverty.