The movie's premise is interesting - it's basically a puppet show, a bunraku-style puppet show. The thing that makes it interesting is that it's a puppet show played by human actors. Once the puppet show begins, it's all actors, on semi-abstract, simplistic sets, with the actual puppeteers moving around the set, directing the action, moving the scenery, etc. It's an interesting conceit, and there are some very nice visual elements (some of the camera work and composition is wonderfully done). The problem? I really didn't like the movie itself.
Double Suicide basically is supposed to be a metaphor for free will in life, I think - the argument being that we don't have much, as there are invisible puppeteers pulling our strings, and that maybe in the end the only way to have freedom is to choose to kill yourself. Yeah, nothing to hint that it's an early Japanese film at all.
So the main character is a merchant that owns a paper store. He's got a wife and 2 kids, and 2 servants. He's helplessly in love with a courtesan, and to cut to the chase, he basically fucks up his life and then he and the courtesan commit a double suicide. I understand that we're talking about feudal Japan, where men were expected to be sexist bastards, where honor was everything, where your family obligations ruled your life, marriages were arranged, etc. I get that.
The problem is that the main character is just such a whiny, disgusting person that I found myself wishing he'd just kill himself and get it over with so I wouldn't have to listen to him any more. Yeah, I know, your life has been tough, you're in love with another woman, blah blah fucking blah. You're cheating on your wife, you're neglecting your children, you're leaving your family without income AND selling off all of their possessions to pay for your obsession, and you whine about it on top of everything else? You complain when people spread "rumors" about you which shame you? Dude, you should be ashamed.
Maybe I was just in the wrong mood for this tonight, but I couldn't get over the fact that I really loathed the main character. I saw the rest of the "deeper" meaning and such of the movie, but it was really hard to appreciate that meaning when the characters themselves suck so much. The only decent person in the movie was the wife, who even while her husband is cheating on her, ignoring the children, and betraying their marriage every second, is trying her best to hold things together, raise their children, and even defends her little shit of a husband. He took the easy way out, he wasn't looking for freedom, he was just a damn coward who wasn't willing to face up to the situation he was in and make the best of it; instead he dragged everyone down with him in his misery and then killed himself too. What a prick.
I give it 4/5 stars for style/artistic quality, but 2/5 for actual enjoyment.