The Woman with Red Hair

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

1979. English subtitles. Colour. 73 min.

In the Realm of the Senses meets Five Easy Pieces! Regardless of its disreputable roots in the ‘Pink’ (sex) film genre, director Tatsumi Kumashiro’s film was ranked as one of the top five releases of 1979 by the prestigious Japanese film journal Kinema Jumpo. It tells of a mysterious female hitchhiker who is picked up by a macho construction worker. They return to his flat and embark on an obsessive—indeed, borderline hysterical—erotic relationship in an attempt to escape their bleak working-class lives. The narrative’s strong sense of claustrophobia is further heightened by constant rain outside and a chorus of moaning junkies from the room below. A work of gritty intelligence, considerable emotional intensity and sublime aesthetic detachment, The Woman with Red Hair reaches towards the very core of human sexuality. Although virtually unknown in the West, Kumashiro deserves to be counted amongst the greatest Japanese directors of the 1970s.

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