The Lonely Affair of the Heart

on September 27, 2002 by Kim Williamson
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Filmed mostly in black and white, this 19th film by Junichi Suzuki ("Remembering the Cosmos Flower") journeys into the darkened psyche of Orie, a 44-year-old married woman ("Tora-san, the Good Samaritan's" Rumi Sakakibara), who for years has lived a barren common-law marriage with Shiraki, an older womanizer ("Irodorigawa's" Masakane Yonekura). "The days just go by," Orie muses to herself. "I'm one of many women who feel that way.... I want to be saved." Arriving as a possible savior is a young man (Kazuya Takahashi), who appears inside her house one day, then exits with apology but not explanation. Desperate, Orie begins yearning for his return.

And then he does--or has he? And as Orie, through contemplation and conversation with the young man, delves deeper into her sadness, she sees that both the cause and fault lie with the emotionally brutish Shiraki--or do they? And in her efforts to reignite her passions Orie discovers the power to salvage herself--or can she? Though made too overt by the literalness of the cinema screen, at least as captured by Suzuki, and paling somewhat by comparison not due to its monochromatic imagery but to its less deep examination of the arteries leading into the human soul, "The Lonely Affair of the Heart" plays like a distaff Asian version of Claude Sautet's "Un Couer en Hiver." "A nonchalant man doesn't get wet," explains Orie's young gent one day he arrives dry despite downpour outside, and likewise the film is a bit too nonchalant and dry about the themes into which it delves. But it's an intriguing effort nonetheless. Starring Rumi Sakakibara, Masakane Yonekura and Kazuya Takahashi. Directed by Junichi Suzuki. Written by Masaru Baba. Produced by Tetsutomo Kosugi. A Pathfinder release. Drama. Japanese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 89 min.

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