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Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A Tokyo salaryman out of work moves to a fishing village and starts a relationship with a strange woman whose body gushes water when she has an orgasm. This was the final film from Japanese auteur Imamura Shôhei.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

In his final film, two-time Cannes Palme d’Or winner Imamura Shohei (The Ballad of Narayama, The Eel, Pigs and Battleships) continued his career-long fascination with, in his own words, “the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure.”

During Japan’s “Lost Decade” of the 1990s, a period of prolonged economic stagnation that began in 1991, unemployed Tokyo salaryman Sasano Yosuke (Yakusho Koji), unable to find work, listens to an elderly, homeless philosopher who sends him on a quest for a treasure in the fishing village of Nato. When he relocates there, he finds the strange woman Aizawa Saeko (Shimizu Misa) who has the unusual orgasmic response of gushing fountains of water. Yosuke becomes involved with this woman, takes a job helping the local fisherman, and eventually realized there is more to her story than he originally thought.

A blend of fantasy and sex comedy that is uniquely Japanese and also quite feminist without being sanctimonious, Warm Water is quirky in atmosphere and beautifully filmed. There is a seaside scene that ends the film that is both symbolic of the sturm und drang of the central relationship and the powerful, orgasmic sex that is the literal climax of the film. This may not be the sort of masterpiece that a film like The Ballad of Narayama is but it is nonetheless a fine effort from this auteur to go out on.

  • Misa Shimizu and Kôji Yakusho in Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)
  • Misa Shimizu and Kôji Yakusho in Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Film Movement)

The Video

Film Movement does not offer any details on this new restoration (the film has been showing in various arthouses as a new digital restoration for a several weeks), but the original source is 35mm medium and fast speed Kodak Vision 200T 5274 and Vision 500T 5279 film stock. There is an inherent softness and graininess to the film, but it looks very natural and cinematic. Best of all, the ‘red’ in the title and blues look rich without oversaturation. Shadows are just a little on the murky side, but still show some nuance and do not suffer from crush.

The Audio

The Japanese LPCM 2.0 stereo audio mix for Warm Water Under a Red Bridge has your basic, dialogue-driven sound design with good stereo imaging, particularly for the crisp, clear score. The dialogue punches through with a natural fullness as well.

The Supplements

The video essay on Imamura and the film plus the essay in the booklet are musts to understand the filmmaker and the symbolism of the film.

  • Messy and Juicy (1080p; 00:09:50) — Video essay by author and film curator Tom Vick
  • 16-page booklet with new essay by film scholar and writer Hwang Kyunmin
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Trailer (1080p; 00:01:44)

The Final Assessment

A funny, quirky, and sexy final offering from the Japanese auteur Imamura Shohei presented in a wonderful Blu-ray release that is perfect for rediscovering  this film.


  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: BAP Inc. | Catherine Dussart Productions (CDP) | Comme des Cinémas | Eisei Gekijo | Imamura Productions | Maru Limited | Nikkatsu | Film Movement
  • Director: Imamura Shôhei
  • Written By: Henmi Yo (Novel) | Imamura Shôhei | Tengan Daisuke | Tomikawa Motofumi
  • Run Time: 120 Mins.
  • Street Date: 23 May 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Japanese LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English
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A Tokyo salaryman out of work moves to a fishing village and starts a relationship with a strange woman whose body gushes water when she has an orgasm. This was the final film from Japanese auteur Imamura Shôhei.Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Blu-ray Review)