A Woman Called Sada Abe | Chicago Reader

A Woman Called Sada Abe

Based on the same real-life story that Nagisa Oshima chronicled in In the Realm of the Senses (1976), this film, made in 1975, is more realistic and sympathetic. Its focus is on Abe, a rich man's daughter turned prostitute who falls in love with a married restaurant owner, strangles him during two weeks of sex, and cuts off his penis as a keepsake. The crime made headlines in 1936, when Japan was gearing up for war with China and much of the public sided with Abe and condemned her lover for evading the draft. Director Noboru Tanaka refers constantly to Abe's sordid past and underscores her obsession with sex; he also honors the conventions of erotic entertainment by detailing the sexual trysts. But those scenes work because of the brazen performance of Junko Miyashita in the title role—she lifts the sad, tawdry tale into borderline tragedy.

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