Late Chrysanthemums (1954)

Directed by Mikio Naruse

What is the life of a Geisha like once her beauty has faded and she has retired? Kin has saved her money, and has become a wealthy money-lender, spending her days cold-heartedly collecting debts. Even her best friends, Tomi, Nobu, and Tamae, who were her fellow Geisha, are now indebted to her. For all of them, the glamor of their young lives has passed; Tomi and Tamae have children, but their children have disappointed them. Kin has two former lovers who still pursue her; one she wants to see, and the other she doesn't. But even the one she remembers fondly, when he shows up, proves to be a disappointment.

For a somewhat contrary take on this film's feminist credentials, see Monica Viggiano's piece published on the Asian Cinema Blog:

I’ve seen the film several times and I am always struck by how well Naruse uses a simplistic melodramatic narrative style to blatantly comment on how modernity makes Japanese women from every walk of life lose their femininity. [Indeed, he] uses a simple soap operatic style to highlight why women should not have the same rights as men. […] According to Naruse, modernism may give women rights, but even if they have husbands, they will not have joy in their married lives.

Monica Viggiano (Asian Cinema Blog)