Director: Jûzô Itami
TRASH CINEMA ESSENTIAL MOVIE
Imagine a tax investigator as hero. Now, to me, that is an inherently comic premise.
Ryôko Itakura (Nobuko Miyamoto) is a gung ho tax investigator. She goes after small business people who are already struggling. These folks aren’t particularly savvy about avoiding taxes. In fact, they are basically honest. But the tax laws are so complex, and Ryôko is so relentless, that she usually finds where they have violated the tax laws in some arcane way and they end getting reamed.
Finally, one of her targets explodes in fury: “Why should you pick on poor people like us? You cow! Go catch real criminals! There’s millions of them.”
This diatribe strikes a nerve. Ryôko zeroes in on Hideki Gondô (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a mogul who is making money so fast (through all sorts of chicanery) that he has to constantly come up with ways to hide it all from the tax collectors.
Suffice it to say that his strategies are ingenious, but I won’t spoil your fun by describing them. Another winning aspect of A Taxing Woman is the characters, who are unique and hilarious, the result of a combination of great screenwriting/directing (Jûzô Itami) and brilliant comic acting, especially from Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, and Masahiko Tsugawa.
The last element that seals the deal is the music by Toshiyuki Honda. The main theme is brilliant, a oddly metered dance that reflects Hideki Gondô’s twisted and endless pursuit of wealth. For Hideki, no amount of money will ever be enough.
Watching A Taxing Woman nowadays has a special resonance because Hideki Gondô is the 1% personified. Writer/director Jûzô Itami humanizes him up to a point, but that’s okay. Even monsters have children.