Ugetsu ★★★★

There was a moment about halfway through this where Lady Wakasa started to emerge as a driving force of the story and it felt a bit disappointing. The family drama of two men literally risking their lives to rise above their station in a hopeless, wartorn Japan worked enough as a standalone drama. The noble, ghostly seductress who leads one of the men astray (admittedly with little to no cajoling) seemed almost extraneous. I was much less interested in that story than the wreckage of families the two men left behind. But then the movie returns to the push-and-pull of characters choosing between the stability of family and the green-eyed monster of ambition and gets even more compelling and intense.
While too little time is spent on the melodrama at the center of the story AND too little time is spent on Lady Wakasa as a metaphor of the mysterious allure of upper class comfort, I was still into this. Regardless of any narrative issues I may have had, each shot is gorgeous and the musical score is wonderfully demanding. An artistic achievement that unfortunately is just missing the tiniest draw of character for the thematic ideas to land as fully as they deserve.

Entry #6 (Japan) in my March Around the World Challenge

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