Blu-Ray Review: Pale Flower

a card game

They say that if you go looking for love you’ll never find it but it will often find you in the most unlikely places. Opposites attract or birds of a feather stick together, depending on which magazine you’re reading at the time.  It’s clear though that attraction doesn’t conform to any social hierarchies or cultural norms. Neither class boundaries nor economic groupings. This is the case in Pale Flower, where two very different drifters collide spectacularly.

Muraki (Ryô Ikebe) gets out of prison after murdering someone for his boss, the head of a yakuza gang. He’s dismayed when he discovers that they’ve joined up with their bitter rivals to take on a third party. One night he encounters and quickly falls for the mysterious Saeko (Mariko Kaga) at a card game. She’s losing big, but looks completely unfazed. Wracked with boredom and too rich to care, she confronts this ennui by gambling for higher and higher stakes.

Pale Flower is a film noir which concentrates on the darker elements of the human psyche. While Muraki is fatalistic back nature, he comes unstuck with the hedonistic wild-child Saeko. However, redemption soon morphs into self-destruction. Stylishly shot and superbly acted, Masahiro Shinoda’s film is an exhilarating descent into the underworld. Pale Flower sumptuously captures the excitement and danger of their doomed romance.  


  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition 
  • New video interview with director Masahiro Shinoda
  • Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Peter Grilli, coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Chuck Stephens

Pale Flower is released on Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection in the UK on 14 March.

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