Friday, November 13, 2015

PASSPORT TO DARKNESS (1959) - Seijun Suzuki

Passport to Darkness is a jazzy little Nikkatsu noir with style to burn, if not much in the way of fresh plot. A newly married trombone player loses his wife on the train during the honeymoon only to find her dead the next morning at the kitchen table after he comes home from an all night bender. Our pro bone player must turn amateur sleuth to piece together the events of the previous night to find out who offed his new bride. Guess who's about to enter the seedy Heroin Underworld. Surprise!

The best thing about Passport is probably the compositions. Stylish framings abound. At least there's something to look at while ignoring the boilerplate storyline. There are a few offbeat tidbits, however, perhaps off-color too. The Big Bad turns out to be a Frenchman. He also turns out to be gay, in a co-dependent relationship with the dead wife's strung-out brother. This being the late '50s (and late '50s Japan) it's probably no surprise that they don't end up together in a thriving civil union. But then this movie is also noir to its core. Does anyone ever really thrive?

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