The Girl I Loved (“Waga koi seshi otome”)
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
Written by Keisuke Kinoshita
First viewing/Hulu Plus
It seems I have been soldiering through too many movies that drag lately. Although this simple story spends minutes at a time on scenery and faces, I was captivated the entire time. Shows what a bit of poetry can do.
Baby girl Yoshiko is found abandoned, wrapped in her mother’s dancing dress, by a kindly Japanese ranching family. We watch Yoshiko grow up in montage, always accompanied by her attentive older “brother” Jingo. Yoshiko grows into womanhood while Jingo is off at war for five years. When he returns, Jingo’s feeling are more than brotherly and everyone is expecting a match. But as he works up the courage to propose, Yoshiko is working up her own courage to ask his blessing on her marriage to a lame intellectual evacuee in town.
One of the many charms of this film is its glimpse into rural Japan immediately following World War II. The life is still traditional in many ways and we see a folk festival along with many scenes of work with cattle and horses – all beautifully shot. The scene in which the two rivals gain understanding through their war experiences is very moving. Although there is little action or suspense, I cared so much about the characters that I was with them all the way.