To film lovers around the world, The Sea Is Watching
is a welcome parting gift from Akira Kurosawa, who wrote the screenplay based on two short stories by one of his favorite authors, Syugoro Yamamoto, but was unable to make the film prior to his death in 1998. Kurosawa left detailed storyboards and production notes, entrusting veteran director Kei Kumai to bring his vision to the screen. The results are both glorious and rather mild, by Kurosawa standards, but this gentle melodrama about love, loss, and survival retains much of the peaceful optimism that informed Kurosawa's final films. Set in the 19th century Edo period, the story focuses on the prostitutes of a seaside village brothel, where the vulnerable geisha O-Shin (Nagiko Tohno) endures one heartbreaking love and a potential second, while the more cynical Kikuno (Misa Shimizu) combats misery with harmless fantasies that bolster her spirits. Nature plays a role, and a climactic typhoon has a cleansing effect, offering hope in the wake of destruction, as if the sea had been watching all along. And like the sea itself, Kurosawa's spirit washes over this beautiful film, compromised only by music that's more sentimental than Kurosawa would have allowed. -- Jeff Shannon
A visually beautiful love story about a young geisha, O-Shin, who works in Tokyos red light district. When O-Shin finds herself falling in love with a samurai that fate has brought to her brothel, her sister, Kikuno secretly hopes that O-Shin can be set free of the brothel so she may love at her own will. Eventually, O-Shin meets Ryosuke, a weary, troubled customer the tide has brought to the brothel. Their relationship grows into one of respect and love. When a thunderous storm hits the brothel and all the villagers flee, O-Shin and Kikuno are left to contemplate their fate. Written by Academy Award® nominee Akira Kurosawa - his final project before his death.