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Mikio Naruse intertwines a fated love story with a portrait of postwar Japan's changing society and mores in this account of a headstrong war widow (Hideko Takamine) battling to support her family with the dwindling earnings of her small store.
"As a love story it climbs to sublime heights" (Miguel Marías). Yearning stars Hideko Takamine as a headstrong war widow who has supported her family with the dwindling earnings of a small store that is losing out to proliferating supermarkets. Her brother-in-law returns from Tokyo, promising to help out, but soon resumes his life of booze and women, while his sisters try to marry the widow off and, when unsuccessful, conspire to sell the store out from under her. (The selfishness of such characters in Naruse never ceases to amaze.) As he did in Floating Clouds, Naruse entwines a fated love story between a desperate war widow and a philandering man with a portrait of Japan's changing economy and mores. The late Taiwanese master Edward Yang, a great admirer of Naruse and of Yearning in particular, has written very eloquently about how the calm discretion of the film's closing sequence summarizes Naruse's worldview, and manifests what Yang rightly calls his generosity.