Goaisatsu (1991)

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Directors Toshio Terada, Jun Ichikawa, and Kaori Momoi spin this omnibus film about that cornerstone of Japanese society -- the goaisatsu. Long, stilted, and often painfully maudlin speeches delivered in the floral style of formal Japanese, the goaisatsu graces such public events as wedding receptions, going-away parties, and high school reunions. The first section, directed by Terada and entitled "Iroiro Arimashite," opens at a going-away party for a young worker who has decided to leave her job to marry. During her speech, she makes the off-handed remark that "various things have happened" ("iroiro arimashite"). This aside sends the upper management into a fit of anxiety -- what did she mean? Was she sexually harassed? Was she harboring some awful company secret? They assign her former boss (Keizo Kanie) to get to the bottom of the matter. His investigation lands him in the heart of workplace darkness where office intrigue, petty rivalries, and half-hidden desires are the norm. As he sinks deeper into this corporate quagmire of the soul, his wife complains of neglect and his bosses grow impatient for a report. The second segment, helmed by Ichikawa and titled "Kayo," tells of a lonely middle-aged woman (Mamako Yoneyama) who works at a train station newspaper stand. She wakes at the crack of dawn in her dingy claustrophobic apartment, works long tedious hours making change and stocking her wares, and then returns home by train. When she attends the wedding of her co-worker, she makes a quiet though moving goaisatsu. The final segment, directed by and starring Kaori Momoi, is about a thirtyish unmarried woman who makes a drunken, though heartfelt speech at her high school reunion.