Thorkell August Ottarsson’s review published on Letterboxd:
OK, I just saw Ugetsu monogatari again (also known only as Ugetsu). Now I have to get some things out of the way since most people think this is one of two Mizoguchi's best film and I don't.
I do have trouble with ghost stories. They just don't interest me. Ghosts is the most boring monster I know. They usually don't feel real to me. There are exceptions, where ghosts symbolise remorse and wrong doing, like in The Shining. Now I know this is not supposed to be a horror film but I felt like the ghost part of the story was not needed. It works against the drama, IMO.
Another problem I have with the film is that the moral of the story is told in the beginning. WELL, SPOILERS!!! A Buddhist monk says that quick profit in war will lead to greed and disaster and then we watch the same thing unfold. It made it feel like we where being preached to, instead of told a fascinating story. I would also have liked the end that Mizoguchi had planed rather than the one the studio forced on the film. In Mizoguchi's script, the man who becomes a samurai keeps on rising in status. That would have been a much better ending. Not as preachy as what we have in the film.
Another problem I have is, unlike in his women films where Mizoguchi has sympathy for his protagonists, he is just judging the two men in this film fromt he beginning to end. There is no sympathy for them at all. Not that I think they deserved any sympathy but at least they did not need the judgement. The audience could do that themselves. Let me take an example. The man who wanted to be a samurai. Why not make us understand why he wanted that instead of making it a joke from the beginning? END OF SPOILERS!!!
Now to the positive aspects of the film. It looks like heaven. It is just a dream. An eye candy! Brilliantly visual and cinematic! It is the look and the secure hand of the director which makes this film a great one.
So, a must see and beautiful film, but just a little too preachy :)