Gates of Flesh (1964)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Seijun Suzuki]

Tokyo, just after the end of World War II. In an old, bombed-out bakery five prostitutes run their own makeshift brothel. An innocent young woman falls into this world and becomes one of them. Then a fugitive soldier appears and tears the tenuous unity between the girls to shreds.

The actresses who play the prostitutes are excellent, but even so Jo Shishido practically carries the movie. His portrayal of the fugitive is a fierce explosion of masculinity. Seijun Suzuki keeps the pace tight and his scenes pack a punch. But just as amazing is his recreation of postwar Tokyo, awash in a brilliant technicolor rubble. Sidled with a confused mixture of social messages, the movie doesn’t quite add up to all it’s supposed to, but it remains a beautiful portrait of a city in ruins. It’s worth seeing just for the stunning art design.

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