There Was a Father
Time Out saysAmong Ozu's best-loved films in Japan is this touching saga of filial love set against adverse circumstances and social duty. Although only 38 at the time, Ryu ages gracefully through decades as a widowed mathematics teacher parted initially from his only son when a fatal boating accident on a school trip causes the father to resign his post, leaving the boy to continue his studies. Their paths remain separate when the latter's own teaching career takes him to Akita in the north, even though his father is now a successful company man in Tokyo. Ozu displays a Renoir-like understanding of both sides, as the brief holiday time the two spend together proves precious indeed - look for the symbolic harmony in the fly fishing scenes. The issue of separation acquired a particular poignancy in wartime, it goes without saying, but Ryu's stoic underplaying offers a heartbreaking performance for the ages.