ShÕhei Imamura’s movie starts with a guy stabbing his unfaithful wife to death – and ends with the same guy, released on parole after eight years, being sent back to jail.
Pretty much a downer, right?
Surprisingly no – because after that pitch-black opening the rest of the movie sees our hero, withdrawn and near-catatonic after his eight-year stretch, gradually absorbed back into society and opening up to friendship and love.
As often with Imamura, the tone veers between violence and farce, but the overall mood is heartwarming without being slushy. And the eel? That’s his pet, of course.