After the death of his wife, a man struggles to raise his son in nearly overwhelming poverty. When the father meets a beautiful young woman, the son becomes jealous of his father's attentions, and conflict arises between them. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This rarely screened silent gem shows Ozu rather early in his career. It presents the story of a poor factory worker trying to raise his son despite many obstacles and hardships. The biggest obstacle of all is the father himself who, though well intentioned and charismatic, makes one mistake in judgment after another. The father manages to get through all his many trials and tribulations thanks to the support (not always warmly) given by his friends and neighbors.
The most interesting thing for me about Passing Fancy is the way it uses a quite hard boiled, gritty realism and coarsely drawn, boorish characters to elicit very tender feelings in the viewer. The mixture of humor and pathos that advances the plot would be impossible for lesser directors or a weak cast to pull off, but in the hands of this troupe the whole enterprise succeeds wonderfully. Somehow, you may find yourself tempted to cry despite the near-total absence of sentimentality.
The acting is excellent all around, but the young boy deserves special mention. To Japanese, particularly at the time, the boy's behavior must have seemed shockingly inappropriate and unfilial, but his antics and facial expressions are very funny.
It is hard to believe that this is one of three movies that Ozu directed in 1933 alone. If the opportunity arises to see this movie, make every effort to see it.
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