Yoru no henrin (The Shape of Night). 1964. Japan. Directed by Noboru Nakamura. Screenplay by Toshidi Gondo, based on the novel by Kyoko Ohta. 35mm. In Japanese; English subtitles. 109 min.
Given that the yakuza have long operated the Japanese sex trade, surprisingly few yakuza films have taken this slant on a familiar genre. Noboru Nakamura’s The Shape of Night is a notable exception. Awash in seedy hues of neon blue, green, and red, with a claustrophobia belied by its artful compositions in “Shochiku Grandscope,” Tokyo’s red light district is the end of the line for a factory girl forced into prostitution by her would-be gangster boyfriend, his violence and impotent neediness trapping her in a desperate cycle of abuse. 35mm print courtesy Shochiku