Shi no toge (The Sting of Death). 1990. Japan. Directed by Kôhei Oguri. creenplay by Oguri, based on the novel by Toshio Shimao. With Keiko Matsuzaka, Ittoku Kishibe, Midori Kiuchi. 35mm. In Japanese; English subtitles. 115 min.
Kôhei Oguri (Muddy River, Sleeping Man) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes—and Ittoku Kishibe and Keiko Matsuzaka the prestigious Kinema Junpo awards for Best Actor and Actress, respectively—for this period love story based on Toshio Shimao’s semi-autobiographical “I Novel” from 1960, about a husband’s infidelities, his wife’s nervous breakdown, and their attempt to salvage their marriage in front of their impressionable young children on the remote island of Amami Oshima. In theatrical fashion, Oguri eerily blends the simmering tensions and morbid humor of their barbed conversations with painfully long silences and explosive outbursts, and bathes his haunted, claustrophobic spaces—both interior and exterior—with an irreal sense of day and night. 35mm print from Japan Foundation, New York; courtesy Shochiku