My Second Brother

Shohei Imamura's fourth feature (1959) was his last assigned project before the more personal Pigs and Battleships. Based on the diary of a ten-year-old Korean girl, which became a best seller in Japan, it focuses on her and her three siblings' impoverished life in a coal-mining town. Imamura shot in black-and-white 'Scope, doing a great deal with the scenic mountain and seaside settings, but he also lays it on rather thick at times with melodramatic overacting, especially among the adults. A former assistant to Yasujiro Ozu who often tried to be as unlike his former master as possible, Imamura tended to revel in excess of this kind even with relatively impersonal projects. I might have appreciated the social nuances more if I?d been able to distinguish more of the Korean characters from the Japanese ones. In Japanese with subtitles. 101 min.

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