Floating Clouds

Director: Mikio Naruse
Year Released: 1955
Rating: 3.0

Upon returning home from working for the Forest Service during World War II, a dogged, foolhardy woman (Hideko Takamine) goes in search of her former lover (Masayuki Mori), but it turns out he's married and in no hurry to leave his wife for her. It's another Wounded, Weeping Woman story from Naruse, Japan's soap opera king, and the level of melodrama is shamelessly high … and yet, halfway though this, something in it clicked for me. Here's a woman who keeps going back to the same adulterous, lying bastard over and over again, who humiliates herself and ruins her own marriage and who realizes the man she's after is terribly flawed, but there's some kind of driven, possessed, arguably demonic fixation in her that reminds me of so many real-world women (even women I know personally) who do the same thing, know it's irrational but carry on with it nonetheless. Mori's character doesn't physically beat her, though he does everything but. The film itself leaps forward (and backwards) indiscriminately but the story is basic enough to follow and gives a good picture of their screwed-up relationship over the long-term (and to its morbid conclusion). I find a lot of truth in Naruse's dark suggestion that some couples are simply doomed and there's nothing anyone can do about it - it goes against the standard movie mantra that love conquers all.