Afterthoughts: Kurosawa’s adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s play is riddled with Dickensian grotesquerie. Couple this with heightened melodrama and you’ve got one pretty hilarious, and at times, heart-wrenching film. Any small moments of joy felt by these Japanese, poverty-ridden slum dogs are soon trampled by either tragedy or the pessimism of each other.
While the hard-hitting moments do land with profundity, it’s in the comedy (especially the musically-charged sequences) that The Lower Depths really shines.
Plagued with familiar faces from Kurosawa’s filmography, each one gets their chance in the spotlight, and they certainly deliver. The only major absentee in the cast is the ever-present Takashi Shimura, but taking into consideration that Shimura starred in 13 films in 1957 (one of which was with Kurosawa, Throne of Blood), it’s highly likely there were scheduling conflicts for this project.