Risiya’s review published on Letterboxd:
The age old tale of how greed destroys a man and his loved ones. The thing I loved the most about this movie was its haunting soundtrack. You get a hunch from the beginning that something ominous and terrible is going to happen and that is foreshadowed by the brilliant score. Lady Wakasa's song which first plays during the brilliant boat scene, fills the ambiance with horror. I felt loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety all at the same time. The second time when she sings it in her manor, I felt like running away and when her dead father joins in, I couldn't understand how could Genjuro still sit there. Such brilliant use of music!
The river sequence looked like a metaphor, they are undertaking a journey that will change their lives forever. Those silly sods dont know what is coming for them. Shout out to Mizoguchi for such a beautiful scene which probably was shot in a pool but looked as if we are seeing the characters go through a river which meets at the gates of hell. Special credit to Miyagawa's brilliant cinematography. The entire movie is shot in a dark tone which makes you feel you are looking at events unfolding in someone's memory. It suits the mood of the movie and makes the sets very believable.
Once the two men have gotten their hands on the money they behave as if they are possessed. Money is the root of all evil. Their greed will not destroy them individually but the people they love and in my opinion this gives the story a greater depth. You dont directly suffer for your actions but someone you love will and that will be a bigger hell. This then again opens door for redemption, for you to think what you have done, how you have hurt people and ultimately make yourself a better person. This gives the story a universal appeal and I see it being more philosophical than literal.
I have to admit, the closeup of Lady Wakasa where she lifts her veil to reveal her face with no eyebrows was creepy as fuck. Equally creepy was her nurse, Okun's dead pan dialogue delivery. I was expecting her to cook Genjuro up and eat him for supper, but that didn't happen.
Watch this if you want to see an eyebrowless spirit sing hair raising song in the voice of winds howling in the lowest depths of hell. Totally worth it!