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The film reveals its entire plot in its opening moments: Itsuki, widower and successful businessman, will learn in Europe that he has cancer, and reappraise his dealings with family, colleagues and friends. Dropping the element of narrative 'surprise' works as a bold distancing device, the last thing you'd expect from the director of Kwaidan and Rebellion; it enables him to view Itsuki with a kind of engaged dispassion, and to make clear-eyed points about Japanese social conventions and ethics without troubling to keep a melodrama on the boil. Despite stretches that betray its origin in a TV serial (of twice the length), the result is exceptionally innovative for a Japanese film-maker of the older generation. The web of documentary, fiction and fantasy coalesces into a commitment to change that's emotionally tough, and never for a second sentimental.

Release details

Duration: 209 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Screenwriter: Shun Inagaki, Takeshi Toshida
Cast: Shin Saburi
Keiko Kishi
Hisashi Igawa
Kei Yamamoto
OriƩ Sato
Komaki Kurihara
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