Taking place in 1930s Japan, NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH chronicles a time in pre-war history when the ideals of academic freedom clashed with an increasingly militaristic government. Setsuko Hara plays the free-spirited young woman who sees both her father and husband come under the heels of militarism. Although this is the most feminist of all Kurosawa films, and therefore naturally of some interest, a melodramatic, soap opera quality overwhelms the entire production, without the corresponding production values and outstanding performances that can enhance such material (see GONE WITH THE WIND for a classic example). Popular and talented actress Setsuko Hara is only asked to portray three emotions - thoughtfulness, happiness and, most of all, sadness. Her moods change so much so quickly around the one hour mark, you might suspect she suffers from manic depression. .
Things look like they might pick up a bit when Takashi Shimura enters the picture as a hard-boiled Police Commissioner. But he disappears after one cigarette, and the rest of the film features little except the daughter working the land a la Scarlett O'Hara.
Important in Kurosawa's history as his first film to tackle a large topic, NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH unfortunately plays like little more than a typical 1940's weeper today. - JB