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Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Actors: K˘ji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho, Mansaku Fuwa, Isao Natsuyagi
Director: Sh˘hei Imamura
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
UR     2003     1hr 59min

From legendary filmmaker Shohei Imamura comes this comic fable for adults. A frustrated unemployed architect learns of a treasure hidden inside an old house near a red bridge in a remote fishing village. Upon arriving ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: K˘ji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho, Mansaku Fuwa, Isao Natsuyagi
Director: Sh˘hei Imamura
Creators: Shigeru Komatsubara, Sh˘hei Imamura, Koji Matsuda, Masaya Nakamura, Daisuke Tengan, Motofumi Tomikawa, Yo Henmi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance, Fantasy
Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/24/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 59min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

The most unexpected and glorious comedy in ages.
darragh o'donoghue | 05/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A sublimely skewered shaggy-dog sex comedy from Shohei Imamura that takes up where Edward Yang's sober 'Yi-Yi' left off, and pulls it into a completely unexpected direction. Like Yang's film, Imamura's protagonist, Yosuke Sasano, is a computer programmer in crisis (in this case his business has gone under); he now spends his time being insulted by his horrid, hectoring wife on the phone, and living with river-side tramps. Like Yang's film, Imamura diagnoses the spiritual void at the heart of Far Eastern super-corporate economic success - one very Yang-like shot views Yosuke attending an interview from behind a chillingly impersonal window; the distance between viewer and protagonist makes his desperate grovelling to the Kafkaesque manager all the more pathetic - but his prescription couldn't be more different.Initially, the film seems as methodical and meticulous in composition and tone as we would expect from a severe Oriental master, with complicated, multi-level, multi-frame compositions (the geometry of character groupings imposed on the geometry of place - see the triangle of friends overlooking the corpse in his tent in the opening sequence) staged thoughtfully for a static camera that picks out only the essential elements of each image. This staticness doensn't mean each shot is devoid of internal tension - for instance, the opening tracking long-shot that follows the policemen in the direction of the hut, works against the movement of the river, and is a brilliant, if wrong-footing visual introduction of the film's themes (the disjunction and perversion of the natural in modern life etc.). But even startling comic upsets - such as the collapse of the makeshift roof under which his friends toast the dead man when one of them drunkenly knocks over a beam - doesn't prepare us for the bizarre sidetracks the plot will soon take.The dead man, Taho, was an ex-con who spent decades in his river hut reading the world's classics; Yosuke shared many hours with him when he was supposed to be looking for jobs, with Taro encouraging him to ditch his cripplingly submissive conformity and search for true love. Just before he died, he told him that he had left a stolen treasure in the house of a former lover in a far-flung seaside town, which he was welcome to take if he could find it. Broke and unemployed, Yosuke sets off, and follows the lady of the house, Saeko, to a local supermarket, where she breaks water and shoplifts. It emerges she has a 'problem' with welling internal water that can only be vented by kleptomania or lovemaking. Yosuke takes a job with the local fisherman's son, and is on call for whenever Saeko needs him. But when he falls for her, is it for herself or the life-giving water which gushes into the adjacent river, attracting all the fish?Yosuke's journey from the rather glum order of Tokyo to the weird logic of the seaside town is like the move from the Victorian age to Wonderland in Lewis Carroll's famous book. Yosuke wanders the town, populated by eccentrics whose actions seem more determined by whim and desire than the fixed expectations he's used to, like a bemused Alice, in his case being slowly sucked in by the town's seductive call, and suffering some very odd dream sequences. Imamura's tone changes completely - the music becomes circus-like playful, the staging of scenes, the clash between rigorous framing and nutty events, increasingly absurd (see the wonderfully coy **lla**o sequence). This mode undercuts what seems to be a very middle-aged male fantasy - the spiritual regenration through sex of a hen-pecked husband. And when you think about it, the town isn't that much of a haven - racist, riven with small-scale organised crime and the legacy of industrial pollution, and full of visual evidence of economic delapidation. But Imamura's eye for the meaningful image of location with which to frame his dense, ambivalent compositions never wavers, and his sensitivity to labyrinthine interiors, natural light or water (the deflection of dissolving light from the river onto buildings is particularly beautiful) or delicious colour-coding (those reds!) is as true as ever."
Lovely Happy Movie
Dwight | USA | 11/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've only seen this movie and The Eel by this director but I love the director and his female lead very much because of this movie Warm Water Under a Red Bridge. It was a wonderful life affirming viewing experience that made me laugh out loud a few times. I was looking forward to seeing more movies in this warmer style (I wasn't as fond of The Eel) but sadly, the director passed away - an old man. In any case, this movie makes me happy just thinking about it and knowing someone salty and humorous was out there thinking up these things makes me smile right now. He was so naughty!"
How life flows
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 09/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"We must love how life flows and to do that, we drink deeply; we imbibe the water of life, bathe in it, swim in it, flood ourselves with it. Such is the environment of this film, Imamura's 2001 work, a perfect fusion of real and surreal.

A young woman who fills with water--not urine, but pure water--which can only be "vented" with sexual release finds a willing partner in an older businessman who's lost his job. The man, an urban dweller (Tokyo) meets the woman, a rural denizen (small seaside town), when he follows his dead friend's instructions on recovering a "buried treasure" the friend hid in a house that's now occupied by the water woman.

Water as the essence of life, linked to sexuality, is also the environment of Francois Ozon's miraculously great film Swimming Pool, but here it is given a unique treatment by Imamura who uses, similarly, a young woman as his focus. But here, unlike in Swimming Pool, the male is a major character; here, Imamura gives us both sides of the sexuality coin, male and female, and gives us, because of that, a more flowing film that fills the viewer with the essence of living for the moment. By concentrating on the female, and leaving the male aside, Ozon took an approach that was more penetrating, analytical, psychological. Imamura's way is a more emotive one.

Though radically different from Imamura's prior film, The Eel, it nevertheless shares the same involvement of those whose lives are shaped by day to day necessities, those who live by working every day to survive. The male's transition from corporate sales in Tokyo to fisherman in a small town gives us what Imamura wants us to experience; maybe Oingo Boingo's great song "Wild Sex in the Working Class" comes to mind. Would the male have had the chance to engage in such amazing carnal pleasure if he'd been able to stay at his job and with his nagging wife in Tokyo? One thinks not.

An interesting companion piece to the director's 1966 film, The Pornographers, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is a radically different film that, rather than taking the perspective of those who observe and objectify sex (porn filmmakers), instead lets us feel what pleasure is directly through these two disparate characters, the young woman and the older man. While The Pornographers' tone is wry, detached, satirical, that of Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is amused, delicious, even lip smacking.

A fine how dee doo for all us hedonists indeed. Definitely recommended."
Delight and a wonderfully light-hearted romp
Michael L. White | Westland, MI United States | 06/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Working in the vein of magical realism, director Shohei Imamura spins a yarn of Yosuke (Koji Yakusho), an unemployed salaryman who lives on the dole in Tokyo. He wires his welfare money to his estranged wife while living in "the lower depths" with colorful characters such as Taro (Kazuo Kitramura), "the Blue Tent Philosopher." Prompted by Taro's death and his past encouragement to seize the moment while he can still get a hard-on, Yosuke travels to a small seaside Noto village in search of Taro's long-left treasure.

Once there, Yosuke falls in with the locals who surpass the expected "quirky locals" stereotypes and, instead, appear closer to interesting individuals. At the center of Yosuke's attention is Saeko (Misa Shimizu), a soggy strumpet who, like her (apparently) senile grandmother, suffers from an ailment where she retains water in a most unusual way.

Imamura focuses on issues of filial piety, virility and love with wry, ribald humor. WARM WATER is a delight and a wonderfully light-hearted romp by a seasoned master."