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Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura

Saturday, September 6, 1997
Warm Current
Yasuzo Masumura Japan, 1957

(Danryu). Warm Current is a remake of a prewar classic centered around the intrigues of a large urban hospital. But Masumura and scriptwriter Shirasaka rewrote the prescription for romance to include a healthy dose of skepticism and comic frankness, then increased the tempo to the breakneck pitch of an action film. The normally sober Sachiko Hidari gives an over-the-top performance as a young nurse, Gin, whose wartime childhood trauma now manifests itself in pathological giggles. Gin becomes a ruthless spy in the service of the new hospital director, handsome love interest and, in this version, smug reformer (Jun Negami). Non-sequiturs such as "I like you in white," spoken to a nurse, are an early tip-off that this is a send-up of the original love story. But Masumura's satire is always in the service of a hidden critique, so look for unexplained blood smudges on those crisp hospital uniforms.

• Written by Yoshio Shirasaka, from a serial novel by Kunio Kishida. Photographed by Hiroshi Murai. With Jun Negami, Sachiko Hidari, Hitomi Nozoe, Eiji Funakoshi. (94 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, PFA Collection, permission Daiei)