Kinuyo Tanaka’s debut feature is a marvellous post-war melodrama, following the relationship between a reserved man reunited with his former girlfriend, but with complications.
Masayuki Mori plays Reikishi, an emotionally repressed man who makes an unusual living: translating love letters from Japanese women to American GIs they met during the Occupation. One day, Reikichi's beloved ex-girlfriend Michiko (Yoshiko Kuga) appears, needing his services.
Actor Kinuyo Tanaka, a regular star of the films of Kenji Mizoguchi, including The Life of Oharu and Ugetsu Monogatari, made a tremendous directorial debut here with Love Letter, creating a moving and constantly surprising melodrama starring Kurosawa regular Mori.
Unusually, Tanaka explores societal attitudes towards ‘fallen women’ through the eyes of the male protagonist, emphasising that it is he who needs to change rather than the vulnerable woman. This unique portrait of post-war Japanese masculinity is very rarely screened in the UK.