Picks and Pans Review: Empire of Passion

updated 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Japanese director Nagisa Oshima caused a sensation in 1976 with In the Realm of the Senses, an erotic drama that ended with a graphic castration scene. His latest effort also explores the boundaries of sex and violence, but is much tamer. Set in a tiny village in 1895 (and based on a real incident), it's the story of a married woman and her lover who plot to murder her husband. Though their plan succeeds—the husband is brutally strangled—they become haunted by his ghost. The cinematography is stunning, but director Oshima lets his actors sleepwalk through their roles. Oddly enough, the one element this film lacks is passion. (In Japanese with English subtitles) (R)

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