Kisses (4 stars)


(15) 74min

(Yume Pictures DVD retail)

In some ways resembling a Japanese Rebel Without a Cause, Yasuzo Blind Beast Masumura’s sweet romantic debut feature film from 1957 offers hyperbolised family problems to bring out the best in the two young leading characters and to give a bit of texture to the teen romance.

Bakery delivery boy Kinichi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi) meets lovely artist model Akiko (Hitomi Nozoe) while they’re visiting their parents in jail. Here the film doesn’t play up youthful rebellion against parental neglect, but much more youthful purposefulness as they try and help their parents as best they can. Kinichi’s father is inside for a minor political offence, Akiko’s for stealing money to help pay his wife’s hospital fees. Masumura allows the romance to develop slowly, with Kinichi and Akiko’s respective need to help their parents driving the story, but the film’s unusual emotional texture comes to the fore when these young lovers finally succumb to their emotions. As Akiko says at the end of the film, ‘Why is it so hard to say “I love you?”’. Minimal extras.