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The Sea Is Watching(海は見ていた)

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Japan · 2002
1h 59m
Director Kei Kumai
Starring Misa Shimizu, Nagiko Tôno, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Eiji Okuda
Genre Drama, Romance

Based on Akira Kurosawa's final unproduced script, this Edo-period drama takes place almost entirely inside an ocean-village brothel. O-Shin is a young brothel worker who one night helps a young samurai escape from his pursuers. Against the warnings of her fellow workers, particularly Kikuno and the brothel's owner, O-Shin falls in love with the samurai.

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The New York Times by A.O. Scott

Fortunately, Mr. Kumai, who himself has shown no aversion to baroque melodrama, leans here toward a plain and direct style that is tasteful and intelligent, a boon, given the predictability of the story. He understands the difference between pitiable and pitiful.


The A.V. Club by Keith Phipps

Though the episodic, low-key action bears a resemblance to Kurosawa's Madadayo -- his little-seen, underrated final film -- neither the characters nor the plot lend it even a hint of dynamism.


TV Guide Magazine by Ken Fox

Not just an engaging melodrama that explores the class conflict and sexual mores of feudal Japan, but a work of extraordinary beauty; you could literally hang any random frame on the wall and call it art. No doubt the master would have been pleased.


Los Angeles Times by Kevin Thomas

An exquisite period film from a script Akira Kurosawa did not live to direct. It has a softer edge than the master probably would have delivered, but it is deeply affecting.

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