(15) 97min (Yume DVD retail)
As Noel Burch in his key tome on Japanese cinema, To The Distant Observer, has noted, the disaffected youth film was popular in the aspirant years of the late 50s and early 60s. This film, Nagisa Oshima’s 1960 contribution to the genre is impressive if not especially radical. Compared to films he would make almost a decade later, such as Death by Hanging and The Man Who Left His Will on Film, Naked Youth seems almost conventional – and could easily be shown in a ‘heavy petting’ double bill with Yasuzo Masumura’s 1957 film Kisses. And yet Oshima is crueller than most as he shows peer pressure and cynicism more powerful than love. The devious delinquent Kiyoshi (Yusuke Kawazu) at the centre of the film may have strong feelings for a girl but that does not stop him allowing Makoto (Miyuki Kuwano) to be pimped while she carries his child inside her.
Oshima also shared with his French new wave contemporaries a feel for the inexplicable action – Kiyoshi’s behaviour isn’t simply exploitative, it seems caught between the pragmatic and romantic, and Oshima’s creates as a consequence an ambivalent anti-hero, framed in often offbeat widescreen images. Minimal extras.