Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Over the river. Misa and Sasano pass on the red bridge...
dir Shohei Imamura
scr Motofumi Tomikawa, Daisuke Tengan, Shohei Imamura
with Koji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho, Mansaku Fuwa, Yukiya Kitamura, Isao Natsuyagi, Kazuo Kitramura, Hijiri Kojima, Yoshie Negishi, Sumiko Sakamoto, Mickey Curtis, Kazuo Nakamura
release UK 15.Mar.02; US 3.May.02
01/Japan 1h59

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Japanese filmmaker Imamura is back with another offbeat, creepy romance that gets under our skin even if it never really grabs hold. Sasano (Yakusho) is a 40ish businessman, recently unemployed and separated from his wife and son. He befriends a colourful old man (Kitramura) who tells him about a valuable heirloom hidden in a house by a red bridge. And when the old guy dies, Sasano decides to go get it. But instead of a treasure, he finds a strange young woman Misa (Shimizu) and starts a romance, then lands a job on a fishing boat. But something extraordinary is happening here.

There are more than a few twists in the tale, and it's almost impossible to describe the sense of fatalism and destiny that fills the film. There are colourful characters all around the story's edges, and at the centre Yakusho and Shimizu give intriguing performances that blend drama with quirky comedy to draw us into this bizarre fable. Imamura directs in the same enigmatic style as The Eel--little hints and details that imply a lot but never give away much at all. There's also this obsession with water in all its forms--the sea, rivers, rain, snow and, of course, Misa's odd little "problem." Not to mention a lot of wacky dialog, symbolism and energetic emotional release to keep us intrigued. Yet the overwhelming strangeness keeps us effectively outside the action--we never feel anything for these characters, and as a result the film is basically just a curiosity.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 7.Feb.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Matthew Bingham, Cambridge, UK: 4.5/5 "While the surface of this film is just another romance like any other. Beneath is a whole world of strange and unusual ideas, for film anyway. Few films attempt to deal with the relationship between two seemingly unconnected people. The water represents a form of harmony, and the 'venting' the human influence on the general ecosphere. This film deals with the issues of global warming through a romance - not many can claim to that. The end scene is clearly representative of the state of man at present. We create imbalance in the global harmony through overconsumption solely for our own pleasure, in the same way Misa's 'venting' affects the fish, which is caused by her's and Sasano's pleasure. It does require many viewings to fully examine this particular work of art." (20.Jul.04)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall