Evening for a lady of the evening | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Film » Movie Critic's Choice

Evening for a lady of the evening

Shohei Imamura's 1975 documentary Karayuki-San profiles a former victim of forced prostitution in Japan.


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Kikuyo Zendo, the subject of Shohei Imamura's funny, shocking, and seemingly effortless 1975 documentary, was one of thousands of impoverished Japanese women forced into prostitution and shuttled across southeast Asia in the early 20th century. The director clearly regards her story as a vehicle for numerous perennial themes: the resilience of women, sex as a function of capitalism, and the radical idea that the oppressed economic underclass are the most reliable commentators on Japanese history. Sort of a nonfiction follow-up to Imamura's narrative films The Insect Woman (1963) and Intentions of Murder (1964), this also looks forward to his 1987 period piece Zegen in its cynical portrait of Japanese imperialism, and Imamura's warm onscreen rapport with Zendo (whom he dotes on as if she were his own mother) anticipates the humanism of his late masterpieces The Eel (1997) and Dr. Akagi (1998). In Japanese with subtitles.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →