Mikio Naruse's 1954 Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku) is a fascinating look at the fate of four middle aged geisha trying to survive in postwar Japan. The title is a familiar Japanese poetic trope that equates women with flowers whose beauty peaks and fades. Like several of Naruse films from this period, this film is based on stories by the female author Fumiko Hayashi. It is a rare starring role for Haruko Sugimura (best known as the unlikeable daughter Shige in Ozu's Tokyo Story) who plays the lead role of Kin, a former geisha and moneylender and real estate investor. I think she is an excellent actor since I always vehemently dislike her characters, and Kin is no exception. The story follows her and the lives of three of her former geisha companions (Nobu-has borrowed money from Kin to run a small bar, Tamae-who works at a hotel and has a grown son, Tomi-who has also has a grown daughter and works as a janitor) as they struggle to get by over the course of four days. All experience some sort of tragedy or personal disappointment: Kin is visited by two former lovers-one she doesn't want to see and another that she had previously yearned for, Nobu wants to start a family but is too poor to do so, Tamae's son is going to Hokkaido to work in a coal mine, and Tomi's daughter is going to be married. The irony is that it is compelling to watch these characters even though not one of them is fully sympathetic-they all have flaws and are unlikeable at times. They constantly complain about money and their lot in life, and they struggle, yet they endure.