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Wife of a Spy

Kino // Unrated // November 26, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted December 2, 2021 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:


The latest film from Japan's Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2020's Wife Of A Spy sees the director who brought us pictures like Pulse, Cure and Doppelganger move deftly into the realm of the Hitchcockian thriller, complete with all the emotion and drama you'd hope for.


The story, which the director co-wrote with Ryƻsuke Hamaguchi and Tadashi Nohara, is a period piece set in 1940. Set in Japan, it opens when a British man is arrested outside a business, the assumption on the part of the Japanese authorities making the arrest being that he's spying for England. The man who ran the business where this happened Yusaku Fukuhara (Issey Takahashi), attests that to the best of his knowledge this isn't true but seems more interesting in testing out his new camera making short films with his family, they being wife Satoko (Yu Aoi) and nephew Fumio (Ryota Bando).


When the three family members must travel to Manchuria, they witness the Japanese government committing horrible acts of violence against Manchurian populace. That aforementioned camera allows Yusaku to film it and after stealing some documents, brings them back to Japan along with a woman he met. Back home, a childhood friend of Satoko, Taiji (Masahiro Tagashida), now works as a high ranking member of the military police starts to realize what her husband has done. As Yusaku goes about trying to do the right thing, though not entirely sure of how to do it, his relationship with his wife becomes increasingly stressed, particularly as she begins to suspect him of infidelity when what he is really trying to do is protect her but not getting her involved.


Kurosawa's picture doesn't really reinvent the wheel here but it does prove to be an engaging and entertaining film that is loaded with some solid moments of suspense, strong character development and nice production values. At four minutes short of the two hour mark it might have benefited from some slightly tighter editing but in hindsight, the movie never felt slow or dull, but very deliberate in its pacing. If Kurosawa takes a bit of time to get to the meat of the plot, putting drama before suspense in the first half of the picture, it pays off by giving the audience characters interesting and believable to invest some time and emotion in.


Production values are good. There's nice attention paid to period detail both in the costuming on display as well as the sets and locations used to stage the storyline. An involving score from Ryosuke Nagaoka helps increase and heighten both drama and tension throughout the picture and the cinematography from Tatsunosuke Sasaki is appropriately polished and at times quite impressive. Performances are strong from all involved, with Issey Takahashi and Yu Aoi really doing a fantastic job as the two leads in the picture.


The Video:


Wife Of A Spy comes to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p and the picture quality here is gorgeous. As the movie was shot digitally there's obviously no print damage, dirt, debris or grain to discuss, the image is pristine. Detail is exceptional throughout, not just in the foregrounds and striking close up shots but in medium and long-distance shots as well, you can really make out a lot in the background details. There are no noticeable issues with compression or edge enhancement problems while colors are reproduced perfectly. Black levels are nice and deep and skin tones look natural. There's nothing to complain about here in terms of the picture quality, the movie looks fantastic.


The Audio:


The 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 mix, in the film's original Japanese language, sounds great. Surrounds are used very nicely to spread the score around and it really helps to build tension and atmosphere in the picture. The levels are balanced perfectly, the dialogue is crystal clear and the multi-layered sound design employed in the film is really brought to life quite nicely in this mix. No problems to note here at all, this is a very rich track that does the film justice. An optional DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is also provided here.


The Extras:


Extra features are slim, limited to a basic making of featurette, a trailer, menus and chapter selection options.


Overall:

Wife Of A Spy doesn't really offer up a whole lot we haven't seen before in terms of how it plays out, but Kiyoshi Kurosawa and company have done a great job putting all of this together and the film will keep viewers engaged throughout. Kino's Blu-ray release is light on extras but it does look and sound very good. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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