Sunday, 6 June 2010


An estranged, unemployed man named Mizuhara is struggling to come to terms with the divorce that stopped him seeing his son Fumio, and thus caused him to lose motivation. In a last-ditch attempt to get the family back together, Mizuhara pays a visit to ex-wife Mitsu, who is quickly irritated by his presence. Mizuhara persists, demanding to see more of Fumio and promising to find work that would mean Mitsu could quit her unsavoury job as a bar hostess. But despite the uplifting prospects of being a family again, Mizuhara sees himself beaten to the floor once again, and one is left to wonder if he’ll ever get back up.

Nightly Dreams is a dark episode in Mikio Naruse’s oeuvre, a blunt portrayal of what low self-esteem and superstition can do to a man. While none of Naruse’s films find universal satisfaction for the characters, the destructive powers in Nightly Dreams eat away at both protagonists and their son, and the world outside becomes a dangerous place. Naruse captures little moments of human vincibility that other directors would have forgotten, using abrupt zooms to give scenes unexpected emotional impact. Although the story arc belongs to Mizuhara, who undergoes more peaks and troughs than anyone else, the film belongs to Mitsu, the strong, passionate female figure so frequently seen in Naruse’s works. The innocence of childhood is not forgotten in this family drama, and Mizuhara’s relationship with Fumio seems more fraternal than paternal. Nightly Dreams is a saddening, quietly powerful film.

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