Irezumi (4 stars)

  • The List
  • 23 August 2007


Based on the legendary decadent Japanese writer Junichirô Tanizaki’s short story, Yasuzo Masumura’s 1966 film is a tale of love’s labour lost to prostitution and murder after a woman, Otsuya (Ayako Wakao) from a superior background embarks on an affair with her social inferior, Shinsuke (Akio Hasegawa). As they hide out waiting for family approval, hoping to marry, the person supposedly protecting the pair betrays them, leading to Otsuya receiving a spider-woman tattoo that covers her back as she becomes a geisha, while Shinsuke commits a series of murders as he’s determined to get her back. As with much of Masumura’s work (Red Angel, Blind Beast) there is an unremittingly bleak quality that suggests death is at least a respite from the exhaustion of passion and brutality. (Tony McKibbin)

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