Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa beautifully and methodically renders the story of a married couple plunged into uncertainty in the days leading up to World War II. With a slow-burn plot, the film marries historical drama with psychological tension, highlighted by intensely focused performances from Yû Aoi, who plays a wife slowly suspecting her husband of being an anti-Japanese spy, and the ever-stoic Issey Takahashi, who plays a husband harboring a restless secret. The film succeeds as a portrait of a marriage under duress. But at times, slack pacing causes the story to rely too heavily on the personal, at risk of unmooring the narrative’s political stakes. For example, the film touches upon historical atrocities and human experimentation conducted by the Japanese military in Manchuria, but fails to address that said experiments were never properly prosecuted or atoned for. (In fact, the United States gave immunity to researchers involved in these experiments in exchange for their data.) Whether these vagaries are a failing or a feature, Kurosawa leaves the audience with large-scale questions about the nature of love and justice. In Japanese with subtitles. 115 min.

Gene Siskel Film Center