Because it's adapted from an unimpeachable literary source (Junichiro Tanizaki's novel) and has a magnificent cast, this torrid melodrama verges on the status of art movie classic; but Masumura's earthy tastes keep it safely anchored in sexploitation territory. Bored, rich wife Sonoko (Kishida), whose inherited wealth has set up her husband's law firm, grows infatuated with a younger woman she meets in art class. They become lovers. But Sonoko (who narrates the story to a silent psychiatrist) soon learns that Mitsuko (Wakao) is a deceitful and endlessly manipulative tease, dubiously involved with the supposedly impotent Eijiro (Kawazu) and all too ready to draw Sonoko's husband Kotaro (Funakoshi) into her ranks of slavish admirers. As the plot descends into a miasma of suicide pacts, cross-manipulations, blackmail, tests of loyalty, fake pregnancies and absurd blood oaths, Masumura lifts it back up into the emotional overdrive which has made the film a pillar of its genre. Wakao (a Daiei contract actress who starred in nearly half of Masumura's films after both worked on Mizoguchi's Street of Shame) proves more than equal to a role which prefigures Hanna Schygulla's classy slut in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant by nearly a decade. The Buddhist title connotes spiritual radiance.