Nineteen-year-old Yoshie works in a factory but dreams of a more glamorous life. At the bar where she works nights, she meets the yakuza Eiji and is flattered by his attention. They begin a relationship, with the violent Eiji, who has gambling debts, not needing much time to push her into prostitution. Soon she is caught in a maelstrom of brutality and humiliation. Even with the help of an engineer who falls in love with her, she is unable to free herself from Eiji’s influence, clinging on him with a mixture of love, fear, and compassion. It is only an act of desperation that allows her to finally break free.
Garish neon signs that pop up again and again form a leitmotif for the film, whose elegant direction, sophisticated use of colour and hauntingly beautiful images all make it shine. It is Yoshie’s face which is at the heart of the film however, initially reflecting a zest for life which increasingly gives way to fear and resignation. The artificial lights of the nocturnal city once carried promise for Yoshie, yet later on they only illuminate her inner emptiness. The hope of another life remains impossibly out of reach.