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Late Chrysanthemums (晩菊, Bangiku) is a 1954 film directed by Mikio Naruse. It follows four retired geisha and their struggles to make ends meet in post World War II Japan. The film is based on three short stories by female author Fumiko Hayashi, published in 1948. The story has been translated into English by Lane Dunlop and is available in the anthology "A Late Chrysanthemum: Twenty-One Stories from the Japanese".
|Directed by||Mikio Naruse|
|Produced by||Sanezumi Fujimoto|
|Written by||Fumiko Hayashi (short stories) Sumie Tanaka (adaptation)|
|Music by||Ichirō Saitō|
|Edited by||Eiji Ooi|
Kin, the first of the geisha, is consumed by the idea of wealth. As a moneylender, she is an embittered businesswoman who is insistent upon being repaid by her former geisha sisters, Tamae and Tomi. She is the love interest of a former soldier in Manchuria, Seki, who was sent to jail after trying to commit suicide with her many years ago. He returns to try to borrow money from her, but is quickly turned away. In the end, he is sent back to jail for a money-related crime. Kin then becomes excited when she hears that Tabe, her former patron and lover, is returning. However, she becomes furious after realizing that he does not love her, but rather just wants to borrow her money as well. She kicks him out and burns his photograph to erase his memory. In the end, she leaves the city on a search for property to buy.
Tamae and Tomi, both former geisha, live together. Tamae is plagued by migraines, and as a result, she is unable to work as frequently as she would like as a housekeeper in a hotel. She is troubled by her son Kiyoshi's relationship with an older mistress. Yet, his new job allows her to repay her debts to Kin. Still, Tamae is saddened when her son decides to move away to Hokkaido. Tomi is a gambler who has not taken good care of herself after her days as a geisha. She laments her daughter Sachiko's upcoming marriage to an older man and tries to persuade her against it. Tomi is also indebted to Kin and is unable to repay this money as a result of her addiction to gambling.
The last of the four geisha is Nobu. She and her husband own a restaurant, which is frequented by the other women.
Late Chrysanthemums is often considered one of Naruse's finest works; Keith Uhlich of Slant awarded the film a full four stars and called it "Naruse's most perfect film". It also received four critics' votes in the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound poll.