High and Low

High and Low ★★★★½

It took me a little while, but eventually I came around to High and Low's brilliance and tension. Kurosawa is a master of visual depth, but High and Low takes it to its most extreme, of the six films I've seen of his. The depth of each area is marked by its bodies; they melt from characters to setting, meticulously placed at first, until the playground expands to uncontrollable masses in clubs and alleyways.

Kurosawa also, more than anywhere else, boasts a bravura of styles in waves; we move from the confined luxury stage-play precision of Gondo's house to a frenetic train scene, the masterfully cut, sweltering preccint, and eventually expand through the highs and lows of urban Japan and more.

It's these spaces (and the title) where the film picks up its themes, doing what Bong Joon Ho's Parasite does nearly sixty years prior and crafting a dark crime thriller before it was a celebrated genre while feeling just as modern.

In the middle of this conflict of space and division of class are images; drawings, maps, 8mm film, Kurosawa interjecting his own profession that eventually bridges the two sides, but to no avail. They're both betrayed by the system with noiristic doom, and when the "curtain" falls in the final moments, Gondo is left with only himself as Japan continues trudging into an age of Westernization and capitalism without him.

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