Film: â€śVillonâ€™s Wifeâ€ť depicting the life of Osamu Dazai, at Asian Film Festival, May 5
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival presents one of the most acclaimed Japanese films from last year, VILLONâ€™S WIFE. Directed by prolific director Kichitaro Negishi (WHAT THE SNOW BRINGS, Festival 2007).
VILLONâ€™S WIFE (Viyon no tsuma)
April 30 (Friday) 7:30 PM â€˘ Laemmleâ€™s Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Blvd. (at Crescent Heights Blvd), West Hollywood
May 5 (Wednesday) 4:30 PM â€˘ Downtown Independent
251 South Main Street (Between 2nd and 3rd streets), Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles
General admission is $12
For tickets, visit http://asianfilmfestla.org/2010/
The film depicts a post-war Tokyo still raw from the destructive events of World War II, exploring themes of Japanese masculinity, as well as the nurturing feminine ideal. VILLON’S WIFE is a story about a long-suffering woman’s relationship with her brilliant but self-destructive writer husband in postwar Tokyo.
VILLONâ€™S WIFE (Viyon no tsuma)
PRODUCER: Chihiro Kameyama, Kumi Kobata
DIRECTOR: Kichitaro Negishi
SCREENPLAY: Osamu Dazai, Yozo Tanaka
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Takahide Shibanushi
COSTUME DESIGNER: Kazuko Kurosawa
ART DIRECTOR: Yohei Taneda, Kyoko Yauchi
MUSIC: Takashi Yoshimatsu
EDITOR: Akimasa Kawashima
Video (originated on 35mm), 114 min., color, narrative, in Japanese w/ E.S.
By Anderson Le, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Based on a semi-autobiographical 1947 novel by enfant terrible Osamu Dazai, the story centers the unwavering commitment of Sachi, brilliantly portrayed by Takako Matsu, who recently won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Actress for this role.
After her husband Otani steals 5,000 yen from a middle-aged couple who own a bar where he has already run up a huge tab, Sachi arrives at the establishment as a self-professed “guarantee” for the stolen money. Her beauty and genuine friendliness, against an implied backdrop of Japan’s WWII defeat, soon has the joint jumping.
Despite the constant humiliations caused by Otani (Tadanobu Asano, MONGOL), Sachi’s devotion towards him never wavers. The relationship between Sachi and Otani deepens and shifts with Sachi’s growing empowerment. Her continued allegiance to Otani is no longer a passive duty, but a beacon of postwar survival.
In many ways, Otani is Dazaiâ€™s avatar. In real life, he was the epitome of the tortured artist; an alcoholic, a womanizer, and having a child out of wedlock from a female fan, he also suffered from health problems, primarily tuberculosis during the War. The tortured writer eventually died in 1948. It is apropos that the film was released in 2009, the 100th anniversary of Dazaiâ€™s birth.
Director Negishi, as well as screenwriter Yozo Tanaka, paint their characters with subtlety, while Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asanoâ€™s performances are muted, yet have a visceral undertone that follows the intended blueprint of Dazaiâ€™s characters.
Matsu as Sachi is especially notable, realizing the late writerâ€™s feminine ideal as she travels emotionally through hell and back, caused by male deep-seated selfishness. Sachi represents a savior for Dazaiâ€™s own sins.
That is not to say that this film is angst-porn. On the contrary, VILLONâ€™S WIFE is moving and enthralling, filled with quiet moments that allow time to stop and subtle and brave performances by some of Japanâ€™s best actors. Nominated for four Japanese Academy Awards, the film also won the Best Director Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.