Madadayo (1993)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 20, 1998 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 134 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bob Mastrangelo

Akira Kurosawa's final film is solely of note because of its association with the master, and is simply not in the same league as his great works or even his lesser works. Still, there is enough worthwhile to make it agreeable viewing, and there are the occasional moments where the old touch is present. The story of a retired professor adored by his students, who continually pay tribute to him and come to his rescue in times of need, has obvious parallels to the tributes paid to Kurosawa in his final years. The constant adoration of Professor Uchida, however, gets a bit much at times, and Kurosawa's sentimental tendencies go completely unrestrained, to the point of absolute mawkishness. The best moments involve the search for Uchida's missing cat Nora, Uchida and his wife enduring the ordeal of having their home destroyed and having to survive in a shack, the amusing bit in which Uchida is buying horse meat, and the beautifully filmed final scene. After such an incredible career, Kurosawa had certainly earned the right to indulge in sentiment and nostalgia, and Madadayo is not the awful exercise that some critics have dismissed it as being, containing moments of humor and genuine warmth. Nevertheless, it is ultimately a very slight exercise, and in the broader evaluation of Kurosawa's body of work, Madadayo registers barely a blip.