Best Movies by Farr
Pale Flower Poster
Released Runtime Category
1964 96 Foreign Language, Romance, The Criterion Collection
Director Language
Masahiro Shinoda Japanese
Ryo Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Chisako Hara

Pale Flower

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What's it About

When yakuza Maruki (Ikebe) gets out of jail for murder, he immediately returns to his old haunts in Tokyo. On his first night out, he meets a mysterious female gambler, Saeko (Kaga), who shows no fear in placing risky bets. Though his old girlfriend (Hara) has remained faithful and kept a torch burning for him, Maruki is understandably intrigued by this new thrill-seeking moll. Still, attraction has its price: soon enough the all-consuming relationship between Maruki and Saeko is leading the smitten yakuza on a perilous path right back to prison.

Why we love it

This slick and stylish gangster romance from the Japanese New Wave immediately draws you into its dark, nihilistic orbit with crisp, seductive black-and-white cinematography. Director Shinoda ("Double Suicide") also employs unconventional editing to keep his twisted tale — and his audience — slightly off balance. Noted composer Toru Takemitsus ethereal, unnerving score also serves to heighten the film's feverish vibe. The performances also deliver the goods: Ikebe ably transforms his Maruki from stoic yakuza to obsessed lover, and Kaga's Saeko is an obscure object of desire par excellence. Calling all Yakuza fans: here's a movie that will surely blossom in your imagination.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"