The Makioka Sisters

This 1983 Japanese film concerns the lives of four sisters of a wealthy Osaka merchant family in the 1930s.  The parents are dead, and the two older (married) sisters spend much of their time trying to marry off their two younger sisters. If this sounds like a Jane Austen story, you’re right.  But it has a particularly Japanese twist, starting with the fact that the women control the money (the men who married into the family even took their wives’ names). The film offers a rare glimpse into the lives of upper-middle class Japanese just prior to WWII. The women struggle to maintain Japanese traditions, wearing kimono even as they live in Western-style homes and their men go off to work in Western-style suits. Lovers of the Japanese esthetic will appreciate the photography, particularly of the kimono, which are stunningly beautiful and lovingly shot.  The family works through a number of issues, some with more success than others, while the war that will destroy their world lurks just in the background.

Worth your time, but be warned — this is not an action film.  But if you liked the films made of Jane Austen films, you’ll probably like this.

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