teionefive’s review published on Letterboxd:
i dont think that films entirely devoid of the supernatural or the mysterious suit kurosawa’s style well. he’s a very outwardly restrained director, but he tends to compensates that formal restrain either with a rich emotional undercurrent or by finding the inward complexity in the supernatural. he stays very much true to his style approach to directing here, and it’s a confidently executed réalisation, but an overall pretty muted film. the story works well as a script but translated to film it just doesn’t seem engaging. everyone’s performance is fine, but not particularly memorable. and mostly, being an entirely realistic film it lacks a second layer which always makes kurosawa’s films so distinct and rich despite their restrain. and the thing is, even 旅のおわり despite being a purely realistic film still managed to explore the otherworldliness of reality, the alienation and the otherness, which worked really well. but in Wife of a Spy the story is all there is, what we see is all there is. that’s not necessarily bad in itself, but for Kurosawa it’s hard to see this as a successful approach.
love the cinematography though: this has a weirdly appealing dated, artificial look, like a recorded play rather than a proper film. saw some reviews comparing this to a TV look, but in a world where TV look mostly evokes a feeling of poorly executed attempt at film-like visuals i found Wife’s aesthetic to be very distinct and pleasing. half a star bump for that.