I’ve often said (likely to myself…) that one of the most interesting and powerful emotions that can be explored through film is regret or disappointment. Indeed, some of the most powerful scenes in film history deal not with love or death or joy but rather with disappointment. Just think of Setsuko Hara’s Noriko in “Tokyo Story” admitting that life is indeed “disappointing” or Benjamin Braddock’s smile fading away in the bus at the end of “The Graduate”. I think the poignancy of these scenes, much like the final moments of “The Samurai I Loved” is due to the fact that feelings of regret and disappointment are absolutely universal in a way that a traumatic death, rapturous joy or even unrequited love simply are not. There’s therefore a far better chance that viewers will connect specifically with the disappointments of a character than they will with a scenes of heartbreaking death, incredible joy, or boundless romance.
Beyond its denouement, “The Samurai I Loved” is also notable for its gorgeous cinematography and the work of Shomegero Ichikawa andYoshino Kimura as the adult versions of Bunshiro and Fuko (though the actors playing the teenaged roles aren’t bad either) whose restrained performances do much to add to the emotional impact of Mitsuo Kurotsuchi’s film.