A Woman With Red Hair

Co-presented by The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles

One of ‘70s Japanese cinema’s most profoundly disturbing reflections of life on the edge of poverty — and one of its most sexually controversial. Two roughneck day-laborers who share everything (including the women they rape) stumble upon a beautiful gal with red hair waiting on the side of the road in a rain storm. It’s a no-brainer that they’d pick her up, but when Kenzo and the mysterious redhead start an intense sexual relationship, the equation changes. Shot against torrents of rain, director Tatsumi Kumashiro creates a thick atmosphere of desperation that reveals the emptiness of the characters’ lives. Judged from a Western perspective, the men are rapists and misogynists, but these portraits are anything but a celebration. Set in the Kansai region — a choice of location unfamiliar for Westerners, but one all the more shocking to its original audience — The Woman With Red Hair betrays the polished “happy” film version of Tokyo that you’d see in a Toho production, instead giving you a grimy blue collar world a lot like what the Japanese would’ve seen just outside their theater doors. Heavy-duty stuff.
Dir. Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1979, 35mm, 73 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “A Woman With Red Hair”!