The Makioka Sisters
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Time Out saysA prestige literary adaptation (from Tanizaki's 1948 family saga Sasameyuki, sometimes known as A Light Snowfall) produced by the Toho studio to mark their 50th anniversary, becomes in Ichikawa's hands an imposing tribute to classical Japanese cinema. There's certainly a strong tinge of Ozu in this stately tale, set in 1938 and structured around a series of marriage interviews in which an aristocratic Osaka family research a suitable prospect for the youngest but one of five sisters. The legacy of past scandal, the Makiokas' diminishing status in increasingly industrialised Japan, the sniping for supremacy between the quintet of siblings, and the rumble of approaching conflict, all make for a complex narrative, micro-managed with authority by Ichikawa, who omits the the great Kobe flood that constitutes the novel's key dramatic episode, and instead draws the viewer in through the elliptical release of significant personal detail. The film's visual pleasures meanwhile (exquisite kimonos and cherry blossoms, elegant traditional interiors shimmering in low key lighting), are positively luxuriant, celebrating traditional Japanese aesthetics while recording the passing of a cossetted, gilded world. Pity about the horrid synthesizer score marking the changes. Anyone who dismisses late Ichikawa just isn't paying attention. This is masterly.