This penultimate pleaser from the master of minimalism promptly proffers a pictorial pun whereby a man wooing a likewise widowed totty is so hot to trot that his excitement is evident in the long lick of flame flicking up from his lighter. Whether this symbolism stretches to the smokestack and cemetery stones in a subsequent scene is certainly a subject for study. But seriously, as ever in Ozu, images are best inspected closely. The opening Osaka skyline highlights a (neon) sign - 'New Japan' - alerting us to a main theme of this multi-prism tale of two women hesitating over their father's wish that they find husbands; of the old man (Nakamura) troubling his folks by visiting an old flame; and of the family's saké firm, threatened by bigger companies. Each strand charts changes in postwar Japan. Modernisation/westernisation shapes everything, from family ethics to fashions in food, drink, work, dance and clothes. As in Floating Weeds, much of the film is funny (notably a stalking sequence and a hide-and-seek scene that make virtuoso play with point of view, and a delightfully 'untimely' fart gag), but towards the end it takes on a dark solemnity unusual even in Ozu's most poignant work. Another gem - and only the atypically emphatic music disappoints.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu|