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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Drunken Angel (1948)



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At their core, humans are not fundamentally logical or rational creatures. We try to be, because that's what makes sense of the world in which we live, but every once in a while, something happens that hits us on a deep enough level to cut through the sense we've made of ourselves.

Drunken Angel explores just such a thing: a gangster visits a doctor, who discovers he is dying of tuberculosis. The doctor hates gangsters and their way of life but loves his patients selflessly. The gangster is afraid of death and even more afraid of be afraid, and so he hates the doctor for bringing him face to face with both these fears, inasmuch as he admires him for reasons that are much what this film offers to think about.

Drunken Angel is one of Akira Kurosawa's early films, made before Rashomon, his first classic, and Ikiru, which covers similar (though distinct) territory with greater emotional investment. Despite this film's rough edges, it is compelling at its core and foreshadows the masterpieces to come.