on 28 August 2012
Most Yakuza films that are known to The West (and available on DVD) are Kinji Fukasaku's violent ones (Yakuza Papers, Graveyard of Honor and Violent Mobster) and they are enjoyable but this one is a real gem that has very little do with Fukasaku's one; Pale Flower feels more like a Jean Pierre Melville noir. The film follows Muraki, a yakuza hitman freshly released from jail, who goes straight back to his yakuza gang; and embarks on a unhealthy relationship with constant thrill-seeking young woman. The film is not really a crime film as it does not have much of plot but is more character and style driven boasting some brilliantly directed scenes especially the ending. There is gripping delve into the world of gambling dens yet the film is somewhat pessimistic. Muraki hangs around smoking and is somewhat nihilistic character while the young woman Saeko is an aimless rich woman both bored with their lives. This is in no way a normal yakuza film and those expecting one will be disappointed it is more of a gripping exploration of characters living out vacuous lives. Stylishly direction and a gripping story makes this a Japanese film well worth watching. Criterion have once again made an obscure classic available in a very good transfer.