Release year: 2013
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Long regarded as one of Japanese cinema's preeminent geisha films, Mikio Naruse's Flowing (AKA Nagareru, 1956) was produced at a point in history when the traditional geisha (not whores, but asexual performers - the Japanese equivalent of salonnères, who entertained male clients with singing, dancing and instrumentation) found their way of life overshadowed and nearly extinguished by the encroaching popularity of prostitution.
The narrative, as adapted from a book by Kodo Aya, concerns Rika (Kinuyo Tanaka), a widow whose dire financial circumstances force her to take a housemaid assignment in a failing Tokyo geisha house.
Naruse reveals, through Rika's eyes, the mistress's (Isuzu Yamada) valiant struggles to keep the house from regressing into a brothel or a restaurant; he also introduces us to the individual geishas, who quarrel with one another, drink copious amounts of liquor, and struggle with anxiety over the increasing certainty that their centuries-old way of life will soon become extinct.