Women Outlive Men
“Japanese women are strong… they outlive men.” (Imamura Shōhei)
On the surface, Tomogui might seem a misogynist tale, a story of the violence and abuse long perpetuated against women (not only Japanese). Looking closely, though, the parable of Toma and the curse his father seems to have passed on to him hides between the lines a more nuanced message, suggesting that the youth is a victim of a system that has become a hereditary defect.
This idea is extended in the way in which the film treats the female figures, making them timeless characters, destined to survive the impulses of men. Various aspects connect this film to Imamura’s The Eel, starting with the conflict-ridden relationship between the sexes and ending with the image of the canal where everything starts and everything finishes. It’s the whole universe of Imamura, poet of the marginalized, of peasants and prostitutes, of that humanity that Japanese cinema had chosen to leave in oblivion, that is explored.
Leaving behind the experimentation of Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani?, Aoyama has made a visceral film, in which passion is stronger than reason, a film that shuns restraint because restraint is not compatible with the art of describing the minds of men.Carlo Chatrian