Memories of Matsuko

Japan, 2006
Original title: Kiraware Matsuko no isshô
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima,
Starring: Miki Nakatani, Eita, Asuka Kurosawa
IMDB: 8.1

Wow, this is an epic in just about every way, and judging by the style of the opening and ending credits, its what was intended. Clocking in at 2 hrs 10 mins, this is a long movie!

Based on the novel by Muneki Yamada, it tells the entire life story of Matsuko Kawajiri, a woman who faced great ordeals in her life. From losing her job, being disowned by her family, becoming a prostitute, abusive boyfriends, spending time in jail, falling in love ... all the things that make up a life of someone down on their luck.

Obviously this could have been an extremely depressing movie! And in many ways it is - but it is told with such flair and heart that its like a sugar-coated lemon. While often grim and harrowing, there are moments of humour and hope, interspersed with surreal song and dance numbers and a great humanity.

After the success of his previous Kamikaze Girls, director Nakashima must have been given a vastly larger budget to play with here. The scale of this movie is BIG, and I have to say its a monumental achievement. The movie looks and sounds incredible.

But what really carries the film is the acting of Miki Nakatani. Its no wonder that she picked up the Best Actress award at the Japanese Academy Awards.

Once seeing this you will most probably look at life in a slightly different way - and that surely is the hallmark of a great film.

Memories of Matsuko won Best Actress, Best Editing, and Best Music Score at the Japanese Academy Awards 2007, and was nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Lighting, and Best Sound.

Summary

Story: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Overall: 9/10. An amazing experience that will make you ponder the weightier questions in life, while entertaining with its superb production values and acting. However it is very long and very sad, so be sure to be in the right frame of mind.

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