1947 / Akira Kurosawa.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Akira Kurosawa's ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY is a sweet romantic drama set in Japan during the allied occupation. Two lovers meet on a train platform one Sunday morning and spend the entire day together. With only 35 yen (about a buck) to their name they're forced to pass the time without spending money and their poverty-stricken situation forces them to evaluate their lives. He is a pessimistic and depressed man who had lost his optimistic outlook on life when he returned from the war... whereas she is an upbeat, positive thinker who allows herself to dream big and live happily. It is a wonderfully romantic film with a strong social conscience as Kurosawa explores various social issues of the time. The film's aesthetic and production design is vibrant and depicts the occupied nation with a strong Westernised (American) atmosphere. The fundamental theme running throughout the story is the large discrepancy between the rich and the poor. The society depicted in ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY seems devoid of a middle class and Kurosawa's personal judgements are expressed candidly during a strange and unexpected break of the 4th wall when the actors address the audience directly. In what can best be described as a curtain call, the actress stares down the camera and encourages the viewers to applaud. It is only with such support that the male character can pick himself up and carry on with dignity. It's a bizarre moment that feels very clunky. What is an otherwise sincere and charming romance film is derailed by the filmmaker's audacious and unapologetic politics. If you research the film you will learn that this bold tactic divided audiences and the film was practically run out of theatres. With that said and with the benefit of time, the movie is a wonderful time capsule and I can't imagine it existing without that odd expression. Almost every shot is brilliantly captured and the artistic wonder of ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY screams Kurosawa. It's ever so slightly overlong and could have done without a few distracting sequences but it is, nevertheless, a delightful and heartwarming romance.