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Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn
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A young widow, Noriko, lives with her senile father-in-law, Shukichi, on a farm. He believes his favorite cow, long gone, is still alive. Noriko pretends to be the cow and lets him milk her - a satisfying arrangement for them both. Shukichi's daughter discovers their bizarre relationship and tries to put an end to it. It's known as director Goto's (Scorpion's Revenge, Zero Woman) best film.
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A 29 year old widow named Noriko (Ryoko Asagi) lives with her senile father in law, Shukichi (Horyu Nakamura) on his farm. Shukichi believes that his favorite cow, recently deceased is still alive. Trying to keep him from further heartache, Noriko pretends to be his cow and lets him milk her--a satisfying arrangement for the both of them. However, Shukichi's daughter Mitsuko (Yumeka Sasaki) discovers the bizarre relationship and threatens to put an end to it.
Written and directed by Daisuke Goto, "A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn" is truly bizarre and honestly, a little disturbing. It uses the relationship between Noriko and her father in law to portray emotions and that feelings often sneak up when you least expect it. The film's narrative is quite simple and truth be told its message is very real. One may wonder as to why Noriko would subject herself to a humiliating position, but the film does make it abundantly clear. Hideo, Noriko's dead husband died at the same time as Shukichi's favorite cow. I suppose the two feel rather dependent on each other for comfort, and they feel alienated from others. Director Goto uses the "milking cow" metaphor to express the need for happiness and denial from hurtful truths.
Goto also incorporates a dose of a relationship that would be frowned upon--a doctor (Haruki Jo) is having sex with his nurse, Chiriko (Sakura Mizuki). The doctor is several years her senior and such a relationship will undoubtedly be frowned upon, but their blossoming relationship says a lot to people who should go with their heart and the hell with what people think. Shukichi and Noriko's relationship is much more complex, and no doubt be more condemned. People should just mind their own business I say.
This is a Japanese pink film and one wouldn't be hard-pressed to dismiss its narrative because of the truly graphic sex scenes. The sex scenes are gratuitous and the nudity is strong. The infamous hand over the female crotch area appears to be the signature of pink films and there are scenes of semi-penetration with almost full frontal nudity that are almost highly visible. All three actresses got to show their stuff and they did look like they were enjoying the scenes of vigorous sex. Those looking for pervy kicks won't be disappointed.
Plus, the acting by our two leads is quite strong. Ryoko Asagi looks very simple but she maintains that very erotic personality. Asagi was excellent in her portrayal as the "torned" widow of Shukichi's son Hideo. She manages to flesh out her character with a display of sadness and raw emotion even with the film's 58 minute run time. Horyu Nakamura is somewhat funny at times but at the same time a tad repulsive, I thought Goto was challenging us to feel pity for him. Yumeka Sasaki plays the daughter who is obviously all mixed up. She was raped by the land developer, Namamitsu (Hajime Seiji) which is why she left but she still agrees to have sex with him after many years. Quite an odd turning of events don't you think?
"A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn" is a different kind of art house cinema. It's easy to dismiss it as a sleazy skin flick and I think this would be the wrong approach to this film. The film does have some very human and compelling characters, even though they are a bit bizarre; one has to look past the very gratuitous sex scenes to appreciate its engaging narrative. The film's final act maybe easily misunderstood, but I thought it added a whole new level in emotional impact and an exercise in the proper morals--giving up your own happiness for someone's welfare. Sad, bizarre but truly bold in its execution, and while not a film for everyone, I did enjoy the film.
Recommended timidly [3 ½ + Stars]
Incidentally, the blurb on the film's Amazon page says that the score is by Hajime Oba. It is actually by Handel, Ombra mai fù from his opera Xerxes. It's presented in an arrangement, possibly by Mr. Oba, for string orchestra. Although the playing could use more polish, the music is a major contribution to the emotional depth of the film. The piece is commonly known as "Handel's Largo."