In 1923, in the province of Shinshu, the widow and simple worker of a silk factory Tsune Nonomiya (O-Tsune) decides to send her only son to Tokyo for having a better education. Thirteen ... See full summary »
Two young brothers become the leaders of a gang of kids in their neighborhood. Their father is an office clerk who tries for advancement by playing up his boss. When the boys visit the boss... See full summary »
An affluent medical professor, Komiya, and his bossy wife, Tokio, are to look after Setsuko, their high-spirited niece from Osaka. Setsuko is a liberated woman who does what she wants, ... See full summary »
A troupe of actors comes to town, short on funds and bedeviled by bad weather, so they can't put on shows. Kihachi is the troupe's leader. He steals off every day to visit Otsune (an ex-lover) and their son, Shinkichi, who believes his father is a long-dead civil servant. Kihachi has been paying Shinkichi's tuition, and he's now at university. Kihachi's lover, Otaka, the troupe's lead actress, learns Kihachi's secret and plots to ruin Shinkichi and humiliate Kihachi: she offers money to Otoki, the troupe's ingénue, to seduce Shinkichi. Soon the boy is head over heels, and Otoki finds herself with feelings for him. Can this end well or is tragedy at hand? Written by
I'll go away again.
Shinkichi has accepted you in his heart.
I don't want him to feel awkward because of me. Let me go as the usual carefree uncle one last time. I'll start up in business again. If I do well, I'll return again. I'll be a great actor so Shinkichi won't be ashamed of me. And you can thank me with a curtain call.
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This film is full of the sensitive observation, the slow-building tragic emotion and the moral ambiguity of Ozu's later works. While eschewing the cheap tragedy that was already so fashionable in Japanese melodrama (you can imagine the story going in that direction for any other director), the ending leaves the viewer uncertain and unsettled, with only the vaguest hopes for all concerned.
Apart from the depiction of a rundown and pathetic acting troupe (it reminds me of Alan Mowbray's drunken Shakespearian actor in 'My Darling Clementine'), and the rural small-town atmosphere, what lingers on in the mind is the portrait of an extremely flawed man. Like the great male characters of American cinema, Ichikawa is decent but ruled by anger, regret, and a certain way of life. will Ichikawa ever really be able to change, or do justice to those he feels responsible for? But after all, actors will be actors...
In fact, if this film is to be criticized for anything, it should be done so for its lack of a really detailed look into the lives and profession of the actors. After all, Ichikawa's profession turns out to play such an important part, in the end, in the fate of his 'family'.
Ozu's direction of women (particularly Ichikawa's wronged, but vengeful, lover) is sensitive and truthful, while his his direction of children is, as always, well-observed and hilarious.
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