The third night of our Mikio Naruse marathon goes back to Japan in the 1930s with the silent film Apart From You, about an aging geisha and her teenaged son who is ashamed of his mother’s profession.
Naruse as a director fascinates me. Silence Naruse as a writer/director fascinates me more. This is one of Naruses earliest surviving works and even though it lack the unique characterization and charm of his 50s and 60s works it is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Cinematography in Apart From You is a nice place to start. Naruse manages to create a melodramatic turn of events with his quick camera movements and plot twists and it is a great way of seeing Naruses love for the human psychology. The focus on the relationship between mother/son is done exceptionally and Mitsuko Yoshikawa is really good in the role as the old geisha mother. It is incredibly cool to look at the backgrounds in Naruses films, he frames his movies in a way no other director I know of does and creates a kind of symbolism
JApanese silent movies are incredibly melodramatic. The way it plays on its own lack of sounds and creates amazing scenes with the actors facial expressions and use of mise-en-scene makes it a delight to look at.
Yoshio, portrayed by Akio Isono comes of as the typical Naruse male character. A little proud, very arrogant but most of the time he feels like deadweight. That is mostly due to Naruses incredible writing of strong female characters that always dominates his movies, also. the character is supposed to be 16-17 years old. Oh hell no.
Apart From You is often considered to be Naruses first major success and clocking in at 61 minutes it is a movie worth seeing for the Naruse fanatics to see how his fascination for family dramas begun, and the strong female characters makes it a good film. Also it is in terms of plotlines one of his most dramatic works and really shows that the man was also a very good writer.