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Black Rain (Kuroi ame) - arthouse and international DVD / foreign language DVD / wartime drama DVD review
BLACK RAIN (Kuroi ame) Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Shoichi Ozawa, Norihei Miki
Director: Shohei Imamura   Distributor: Animeigo
DVD release: 20 October 2009   Runtime: 123 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Black & White, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.85:1, Audio tracks (Japanese - Dolby Digital Mono), Subtitles (English), Alternate color ending, Interviews (asst. dir. Takashi Miike, actress Yoshiko Tanaka)

Black Rain (Kuroi ame), an award-winning 1989 film by Shohei Imamura based on the novel by Masuji Ibuse, tells the story of a middle-aged couple trying to survive and repair their lives in the wake of the Hiroshima bombingm, complicated by the fact that their niece is under their care. The central plot of the film revolves around their repeated attempts to find her a suitable husband.

All survivors of the blast are treated with suspicion and mistrust due to the unknown aftereffects of the bomb. Yasuko is no exception; because of the fear of infertility and other reproductive issues, her prospective suitors are all inclined to find a safer choice. Indeed, the entire Shizuma family is unsure when - or if - any ensuing health issues will befall them. Many of their friends are succumbing to the prolonged effects of radiation sickness, and the remainder of the film continues on this theme, adding a few new characters as it expands into the community.

This film paints a detailed portrait of the civilians caught in the crossfire when countries go to war. The re-creation of the atomic bombing aftermath is especially well done and makes a lasting impact on the viewer. Black Rain also features some great acting and set design. I was surprised to note that this film was created in 1989 - it is in black and white and filmed in such a manner as to mimic a film from the 1950s. I was certain initially that the date was in reference to a re-release or special edition.

This is a fantastic film and strongly recommended. Keep in mind that there is no English audio track, so non-Japanese fluent viewers must rely on English subtitles. This should, however, be no great obstacle for anyone considering this film.
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reviewed by Ryan Strampe
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