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Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)
"Ochazuke no aji" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  20 November 1964 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,029 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 11 critic

A childless middle-aged couple faces a marital crisis of sorts.

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Title: Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shin Saburi ...
Mokichi Satake
Michiyo Kogure ...
Taeko Satake
Kôji Tsuruta ...
Non-chan / Noboru Okada
...
Sadao Hirayama
Chikage Awashima ...
Aya Amamiya
Keiko Tsushima ...
Setsuko Yamauchi
Kuniko Miyake ...
Chizu Yamauchi
Eijirô Yanagi ...
Naosuke Yamauchi
Hisao Toake ...
Toichiro Amamiya
Yûko Mochizuki ...
Shige Hirayama
Kôji Shitara ...
Koji Yamauchi
Matsuko Shiga ...
Toichiro's mistress
Yôko Kosono ...
Fumi
Kinichi Ishikawa ...
Company President
Yoko Osakura ...
Kuroda Takako (as Yoko Uehara)
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Storyline

Takeo, a capricious wife from Tokyo high-society, is bored by her dull husband, a quiet and reliable company executive raised in the country (Shin Saburi) After a crisis, she understands better his true value. A parallel sub-plot shows her niece rebelling against the tradition of arranged marriages. Written by phs

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

20 November 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Love's Old Sweet Song
Composed by James Lyman Molloy
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User Reviews

 
simple fare
3 February 2008 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

This is both typical and untypical Ozu - typical in that its a simple story with a typical simple point (but of course told with deceptive skill and complexity), but its unusual in that its set among the upper middle classes, not the 'average' Japanese family of most of his movies.

The story is straightforward - an unhappy marriage between a rich girl and her successful but relatively low born husband. She can't hide her contempt for his dullness and rustic ways. He is unhappy but never argues back, just finds his own little ways of getting pleasure out of life. A series of incidents finds them having an unexpected late night simple meal (green tea over rice is essentially 'leftovers' when nothing else is available) and suddenly she realizes she loves him after all.

As always with Ozu, the richness is in the characters. Taeko, played by Michiyo Kogure is spoiled and insensitive, but a compelling, capricious character. Mokicho (the husband) under his dull salary-man skin is really a sensitive, caring man. The other characters are all vivid and memorable, especially Setsuko, the headstrong niece. There are also wonderful set pieces, usually involving Taekos friends, having little girls nights together, gossiping about their husbands and plotting marriages.

With Ozu a brief overview of his movies always makes him sound dull. But in reality this is funny, moving and compelling. Its not first rate Ozu - the theme of the movie is too straightforward and obvious, the ending a little too neat and tidy. But second rate Ozu is still head and shoulders above almost any other drama. The humanity of the characters shines through, creating a little world we can sink into. The wonder of Ozu is that we are not observing characters, we are sitting with them, in the middle of their lives.

I can't help but compare this to Naruse's 'Repast', another movie about a marriage in trouble, where the wife cannot hide her contempt for her husband, but in the end they both realize why they love each other. Naruse was more of a pessimist, so the reconciliation at the end of Repast is both happy and sad, as the characters realize that that living together, even without a great love, is better than being lonely. In Ozu's more traditional world, the couple (product of an arranged marriage) eventually find love, even after many years of marriage by the acceptance of each others little foibles. Taeko learns that simple things can be as pleasurable as luxury. It seems a little trite, and it would be in another film makers hands, but somehow Ozu finds depths of wisdom even in such clichés.

The irony is that Ozu was a lifelong bachelor, yet he made perhaps the best movies ever made at examining families in detail. If I had my way I'd put this movie and 'Repast' as compulsive viewing for all engaged couples. It would be more effective than any pre-marriage course!


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