Movies You Might Have Missed: I Am Waiting

TitleI Am Waiting (Ore wa matteru ze)
Release Date: 1957
Rating: N/A
Length: 91 minutes
Director: Koreyoshi Kurahara
Starring: Yujiro Ishihara, Mie Kitahara, Isamu Kosugi
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

You could probably argue that there is a deeper meaning and hidden signficance in this tale. A case could be made that it’s not just a well-shot, slightly melodramatic, Japanese pseudo-noir. You’d be wrong, but you could argue it.

The protagonist leaves a restaurant late at night, turns out the lights, and wanders the streets of Tokyo in the rain. At one point the young man mails an international letter. As he wanders back to the waterfront, he spies a young woman standing alone at the water’s edge. He carefully strikes up a conversation and invites her back to what we learn is his restaurant. He lets her dry off, warm up, feeds her, and generally encourages her not to give up and commit suicide as he correctly guesses she was contemplating it by the water.

The middle part of the movie is about both their developing relationship and the slow reveal of their respective backgrounds. We learn about them as they learn about each other. For each, their initial dreams have faded and they have been losing hope. Of course, since it is a movie, they come to learn that their lives are already more intertwined than they realized. Will it make a difference? And will it serve to push them closer together or drive them apart?

The movie has some fantastic scenes with beautiful lighting and blocking and the major character’s insouciance and confidence in himself are portrayed marvelously so that the breakdown, when it comes, is even more convincing. The dialogue seems a bit overwrought and is too discursive, but I can only read the subtitles and I’m reluctant to be too harsh when the language and culture are both so foreign.

On the whole, it’s an interesting film about tragic characters. Their tragedy is undercut by the hopeful ending. It veers away from going full noir and the overall quality suffers for the choice, I think. (Always go full noir.) Still, half a loaf is better than none and this movie makes a reasonable noir for about 90% of the run time.

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