Not rated, but probably PG-13 for swordfighting violence; in Japanese with subtitles; 129 minutes; opening today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.
This elegaic drama suggests that being a samurai wasn't all swordfights and standoffs. It centers on Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada), a low-level 19th-century samurai who is widowed, raising two girls, caring for his senile mother, in debt and unkempt. He unexpectedly sees his reputation rise when he beats up the drunken ex-husband of his childhood love Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa). Director Yoji Yamada tenderly portrays Iguchi as an anomaly among the ambitious samurai - a quiet man who would rather farm than fight, but reluctantly goes into battle to defend samurai honor just as the samurai era is coming to a bloody close.