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Film / Repast

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Repast is a 1951 film from Japan, directed by Mikio Naruse.

Hatsunosuke and Michiyo Okamoto (Ken Uehara and Setsuko Hara) are a married couple living in a rather run-down neighborhood in the outskirts of Osaka. While Hatsunoke seems blandly complacent with life, Michiyo is dissatisfied. Five years of marriage has left her feeling like a "slave", wondering if cooking and cleaning is all that life has to offer her. She's also homesick for Tokyo as well as resentful of Hatsunosuke's less-than-stellar career at a brokerage firm. Hatsunoke doesn't pick up on this at all, taking his wife for granted.

Into this mix sails Hatsunoke's sexy 20-year-old niece Satako. Satako has skipped out on her parents, who are trying to coax her into an Arranged Marriage. Satako is thoughtless and self-centered and soon starts drawing entirely too much attention from her uncle. Eventually a fed-up Michiyo leaves her husband and goes home.

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Tropes:

  • Broken Aesop: The story seems to be setting up a pre-Betty Friedan moral that housewifery is slavery by another name, with scenes showing poor Michiyo scrubbing the floors and cooking rice while Hatsunoke is tooling around town with Satako or drinking with his buddies. But in the end she simply realizes that she's happy being his wife. The fact that he came to Tokyo to see her helps, as does the fact that he got a promotion, as does the fact that he's gained enough awareness to say "I know things are hard for you." The last line, as the couple goes home on the train, is Michiyo in narration saying "Happiness for women is to live lives in a such a way" (supporting a man, that is).
  • A Day in Her Apron: Hatsunoke struggles to a certain extent, clattering around in the kitchen as he tries to make tea for a guest. Whatever lesson he might be learning is undercut when practically every other woman in the neighborhood offers to do the domestic chores for him in Michiyo's absence.
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  • Distracted by the Sexy: Yoshitaro, a neighborhood boy who looks to be in his late teens, keeps getting distracted by lovely Satako. Once he trips on the steps as he turns to look at her; another time he walks right past his own house.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Hatsunoke's stockbroker buddies try to rope him into a deal that promises quick profits. Even his wife faults him for not making the big profits that his fellow stockbrokers are making. Eventually the scheme his buddies invested in collapses, and their firms are bankrupted. Hatsunoke, who saved his firm by not biting, gets a promotion.
  • Housewife: Michiyo despairs at a life of cooking and cleaning and keeping house, feeling trapped, feeling like a slave, wishing she could go back home and get a job.
    "I had hopes and dreams before. Where have they gone?"
  • Kitchen Sink Drama: A simple tale of a frustrated young housewife.
  • The Mistress: Miss Kanazawa, one of the residents of the neighborhood, is the kept woman of a businessman. The straitlaced Michiyo disapproves. After the businessman is ruined in the Get Rich Quick Scheme that Hatsunoke had the good sense to avoid, she makes a thinly veiled offer to be Hatsunoke's mistress, but he blows her off.
  • Narrator: Michiyo is occasionally heard narrating her life, like in the beginning when she talks about hating being a housewife.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Is there a meal or feast in this film? No, there is not.
  • Nosebleed: The old Japanese trope about a nosebleed as a sign of sexual arousal is alluded to here when Satako gets one while flirting shamelessly with her uncle. Michiyo, who already has had enough of Satako, is extra-pissed when she finds out about this.
  • The Tease: Satako gets pleasure out of flirting men and stringing them along. Yoshitaro accuses her of stringing him along, accepting money and favors from him. After she makes a direct comment about how she'd like a husband just like Hatsunoke, he calls her a tease.
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