Gate of Flesh

Gate of Flesh ★★★½

According to Wikipedia, this movie was partially responsible for starting the wave of pink films, so since it's a film about prostitutes I was expecting Gates of Flesh to be erotica, but fine, I'll take your satirical post-war melodrama if that's what you want. Seijun Suzuki is a master of tone here, letting us become accustomed to the bleak nature of the setting just enough for us to endear ourselves to all the women sticking up for each other and allow for a sense of levity, just so the violent disruptions that happen when we've accepted whatever normalcy there is for them can have the most startling effect. Especially sad is the fact that many of these disruptions they are themselves responsible for, stemming from their inability to express their wartime trauma in another way than outcasting others and denying their own humanity.

There are many poignant and memorable scenes in this (when Jô Shishido was bringing home the bacon, I too got real hungry!), and sometimes the film plays more like a collection of intertwining short stories than a singular narrative. But by the time Gate of Flesh reaches its climax, I'd gone through a wealth of emotion that I hadn't expected to feel. Might play slightly better upon rewatch.

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