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Yasuzo Masumura evokes the modernist European cinema of Antonioni and Resnais in this dark, complex portrait of a young widow (Ayako Wakao) accused of murdering her brutal husband.
Obviously influenced by the modernist European cinema of the time (Antonioni, Resnais), A Wife Confesses belies its tabloid title with a dark, complex portrait of a young widow accused of murdering her husband, and it has earned a reputation as one of Japanese cinema's most striking depictions of a modern woman. Ayako Wakao has one of her greatest roles as a long-suffering wife trapped in a marriage with a brutish older professor; interlocking flashbacks reveal her growing love of her husband's young student, and her eventual release from domestic hell. The complicated narrative structure is matched by a visual style that, in elegant black-and-white widescreen compositions, emphasizes voyeurism and intrusion. "Probably Masumura's greatest film" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment); "[Wakao's] performance still amazes with its extraordinary focus and intensity" (Pacific Film Archive).