Monday, 27 June 2016

The Bad Sleep Well (1960)



Akira Kurosawa made many fine films, but they all tended to be very. very long.  The Bad Sleep Well shares only one of these characteristics.

I'm being a little bit harsh, because there are some skilfully constructed scenes in this film.  But only a little bit, because the moments of cinematic art are overwhelmed by the glacial pace of the script and turgid narration-via-dialogue.

The film starts with a wedding.  A young man has won the heart of the daughter of a senior executive at a major company.  Said company is under a lot of legal scrutiny for corrupt business practices, so the police and press both take an interest in the wedding reception.  They deliver reams of exposition about the cast, in the first of many examples of the film telling rather than showing.

The new groom - Nishi - has a secret even the police and press don't know, though it is going to take the film a while to get around to sharing it with the audience, either.  You see, he's secretly the illegitimate son of a man who died as a result of the company's corruption, and he intends to tear the whole place down from within.

Unfortunately, Nishi hasn't just stolen his motivation from Hamlet, he's also stolen his propensity toward complicated romantic entanglements and even more complicated plans.  Both of which require even more explanatory conversations.  Because we haven't had enough of those already.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's when the exposition finally stops that the film has its flashes of interest.  'Every Frame a Painting' has done an excellent analysis of one such sequence, here, which is what first made me interested in seeing this film.

I suggest you just watch the EFaP video, and leave it at that.

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