That Night's Wife
Time Out saysOne of seven films Ozu made in 1930, this seems at first to be a prime example of his 'atypical' early silent period, when he experimented with numerous Hollywood-influenced genres and techniques before gradually refining the minimalist style and thematic focus of his mature career. The film opens as an effective heist drama pastiche, with Okada trussing up bank clerks and dodging the long shadows of a police dragnet, fox-like; we follow him home to his wife and their critically ill baby daughter, as does a wily police chief. As captor and prey sit out the night, waiting for the child's recovery, the scene is set for a claustrophobic battle of nerves. But see how Ozu - and his characters - constantly forgo the opportunities for conventional melodramatic conflict. The antagonists accepting with remarkable equanimity both their roles and their fate on opposing sides of the law. Seeds of Ozu's conservatism are well in evidence, then, but so too is his sedate pace and his even-handed sympathy and contemplativeness.