High and Low

High and Low ★★★★

Maybe is the very reason of it being obvious over its social critique what elevates High and Low on the realm other films such as Parasite while it failed by being more concerned in subverting over its gore and faking the layering of the same topic to instead end up being a display of sheer extravaganza (all in the bad sense of the word).

Here Kurosawa finds a middle ground- the story is taken from a hard-boiled detective novel, as he tells of two stories interconnected at the hip, both with detail a commercial Hollywood director would brush off. Pretty much can be seen as film-noir and while indeed it does involves some familiar techniques from film noir (the detective story and the hunter-and-hunted plot). In true however, Kurosawa’s style, stands as a fable showing the differences and tensions which the coexistance of different classes creates.

Each figure is given prime importance to denote this. No party is inherently bad just like none is inherently good. The motivations of the kidnapper (thus depiction of the lower class) are humanized while his actions avert from that human nature, then you have Gondo being the opposite as his motives can be seen as rather selfish but his actions humanized. I like how is never made overly explicit why Gondo ended up accepting to pay for the rescue of the child of his employee, he was never doubtful on paying when it was his son the one apparently in danger but doubtful when it was any other, unlike his wife he was barely moved by his chauffeur into paying of course however as his wife tries to convince him otherwise... what would be the image of a businessman that prefers to have a kid get killed rather than giving money away, so was preserving his image what truly moved him? Nonetheless his actions ended up being the blatant opposite of the kidnapper, an act of selflessness instead of selfishness.

The image of the house above a worn out city is a symbolic image on its own right, completely surrealistic but effective to speak about the own thematic. Depending on your point of view, for better or for worse (for worse in my case) this movie is one of two halves narratively-wise, it feels split in two and is impossible not to see the blatant change in dynamic coming as so abrupt something that for me while thematically consistent resulted on a second half that made its drag evident.

Mónica liked these reviews