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Ozu's common themes of ageing, filial ties and modernisation are as
present here as in many other of his films. But in this film, as well
as the melancholy and gentleness we are accustomed to, there are large
doses of comedy which makes this film far more accessible for the
The story centres around a widow (Setsuko Hara) and her daughter (Yoko Tsukasa). The daughter doesn't want to get married because she wants to care for her mother, whereas the mother wants her daughter to marry even though she realises she'll be left alone. So far everything is extremely familiar. Except that in this case the dead husband's friends get involved, trying to find suitors for both mother and daughter, thus creating comical situations, causing family tensions, and finally necessitating for the daughter's friend to step in and sort out the mess.
All in all highly recommended for anyone who wishes to try out this highly prestigious director, and a strong reminder for fans of why we love him so much.
Even though the comparison is obviously intentional, Yasujiro Ozu's
1960 film is really a variation on his classic 1949 father-daughter
drama, "Late Spring". He goes further with this parallel by having the
wondrous Setsuko Hara, who played the daughter in the original film,
play the mother in this one, even though only eleven years have
elapsed. Gone is the alternately feisty, flirtatious and petulant
manner that marked her earlier performance as Noriko, and in its place
is that remarkable stillness and quiet warmth in her portrayal of Akiko
that marked the best of Hara's later performances. She was barely forty
during filming, yet she carries the gravitas of her role with uncommon
ease. What remains consistent between her two performances is the
unearthly devotion which ties the characters intractably to the world
in which they have grown accustomed.
Ozu wrote the quietly perceptive script with longtime collaborator Kogo Noda, and the filmmaker's trademark touches - the narrative ellipses, the lack of melodrama, the low camera angles - are all here in their emotionally resonant glory. This time, the character of Akiko has such an easy sisterly bond with her daughter Ayako that neither has an interest in dating or marriage. While Akiko's situation is more or less accepted by society, Ayako's single status is a point of consternation, especially for three friends of Akiko's late husband, all of whom express feelings of unrequited love for the unavailable Akiko. They are jointly intent on finding Ayako a suitable husband and find one in Goto, a young, well-mannered bachelor with a suitable career. Akiko, however, demurs at the possibility of matrimony which leads the story through its inevitable paces.
Yôko Tsukasa is pretty and affecting as Ayako, though honestly no match for the younger Hara in the earlier film. More of that uninhibited spirit is present in Mariko Okada, who plays Ayako's friend and colleague Yuriko. She has a terrifically abrasive and amusing confrontation with the trio of embarrassed matchmakers, and the result comes across as a bit of an imbalance to the viewer now since Yuriko's Westernized independence is more compelling than Ayako's more innate diffidence. Adding more to the comedic aspects of the story, Shin Saburi, Nabuo Nakamura and Ryuji Kita play the matchmaking trio almost like a Shakespearean comedy troupe. Interestingly, Ozu uses a decidedly Italianate-sounding score to underscore the action, a nice unpredictable touch. This well-preserved film is not as essential as "Late Spring", but it is a worthy addition to Ozu's filmography.
This story is basically a retelling of the excellent "late Spring", except now the always engaging Setsuko Hara plays the mother in the film rather than the daughter. The daughter, the beautiful Ayako played by Yoko Tsukasa, is being told its time to marry. Three friends of her late father (essentially uncles) attempt to arrange a suitable partner for her. Ozu has updated his films before and he always manages to keep them fresh. This time, it is both humorous as well as poignant. A great addition to the story is Ayako's best friend Yuriko, a spitfire who isn't afraid to speak her mind. I especially like the relationship of Akiko (Hara) and Ayako as mother and daughter. They seem very comfortable with each other. In the previous "Late Spring", there was more tension. That is what gives "late Spring" the nod as the better film, it is a masterpiece. In this film the acting is uniformly good to great and there are some standout scenes, especially between the always beautiful, gifted actress Setsuko Hara and Yoko Tsukasa. There is also a great scene between Yuriko and the three men who are trying to find a suitor for Ayako. By all means, watch this film, but don't miss "late Spring". This film is available on the 5 disc "Late Ozu" set and both the film and box set are highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of many great movies by Ozu, this is an apparently simple comedy (a
comedy that puts a smile on your face rather than guffaws of laughter)
but with depths of feeling and sadness that are, as always with Ozu
movies, so unexpected. Although not by any means a 'major' or 'serious'
movie, its full of touches that show what a masterly director he was.
Arranged marriages have a bad name for many people - I was very surprised on a recent trip to Kyoto to be told that they are still quite common - but this is a movie that shows that they are as full of the complexities and pitfalls of conventional romance. The story revolves around the clumsy attempts of three well meaning men to help out the wife of their late friend by acting as matchmakers for his daughter. Its complicated by the fact that all three of them were in love with the mother in their early years - unsurprising as the mother is played by the always luminous Setsuko Hara. The daughter is less than impressed by the matchmaking, especially when the men decide to set up one of their number with her mother.
The plot is in many ways very similar to Ozu's wonderful 'Late Spring', which starred many of the same actors. But while Late Spring was full of thematic richness and drama, this movie is a lot simpler, but is equally bitter sweet at the end. The happiness of the older characters at marrying off the younger generation is matched with an awareness of the loneliness of old age. Its also worth noting that the usual imaginative Ozu camera angles in this movie are matched with gorgeous colour and lovely set design.
One point of interest for this movie is that it was clearly intended as a crowd pleaser. For those who think that Ozu is too 'arty', this movie shows why he was hugely popular with ordinary cinema-goers in Japan and remains so to this day. His simple stories resonated deeply with Japanese people at a time of great change, but his genius is in the universality of these movies - they have never truly dated, the are as insightful and fascinating as ever.
In summary, this is not a movie in itself that will convince the doubtful about Ozu's right to be considered one of the all time great directors, but it is a delightful movie for any cinema lover (or for that matter, anyone interested in Japanese culture) to enjoy.
Of Ozu's trilogy on marriage Japanese style this one is my favorite. In fact many of my comments apply to the other two, Late Spring (1949) and Early Summer (1951). All three deal with the concept of marriage as seen in traditional Japanese society and even though to my western eyes it seems antiquated, Ozu manages to present it as a sensible, inherently logical way to pair two people. But what ultimately attracts me to his work is his presentation. The plot unfolds in a slow, languorous way. It's linear but with gaps in time which are fully explained so that we are not left guessing as to intervening events. What we see and hear is the important stuff. We, in essence, are eavesdropping on intimate family conversations, the kind of things discussed at every dinner table, things important to a family but more or less irrelevant to the outside world. Somehow Ozu makes that interesting. Naturally the actors play an important part and the presence of two of my favorite Japanese actors, Setsuko Hara and Chisu Ryu, in all three are a definite plus. So why is this one my favorite? Humor and lots of it. The first two are rather serious, drama-filled works where the characters exhibit much angst. Late Autumn on the other hand is light and airy, there's a bounce to it, and it's filled with a lot of sexual innuendo that is completely absent from the others. It's as if Ozu was saying to us that the post-WWII years was a time for Japan to buckle down to the serious work of rebuilding society. By 1960 the joy of living had returned to his country. It could afford the bumbling of three well-meaning and occasionally lecherous men whose efforts at match-making were only half successful.
If you have never seen a film by Yasujiro Ozu, you may have difficulty
adjusting to his restrained and subtle handling of emotions;
identifying Ozu as a director not known for action-packed narrative is
massive understatement, as his films reflect a less hectic time and an
ancient culture slowly coming to terms with change.
On the surface, this film is simply about the separation occurring as a daughter marries and a parent is left behind. With Ozu, however, carefully and consistently arranging composition, with gentle humor and a quiet observation of the human condition, there is much to be gained from reflection, from watching people realistically and patiently coming to terms with change. No one screams and throws dishes, no one bleeds copiously or falls out of a window, no one even runs across the street. My grandmother used to say "possess your soul in patience," and that said, a viewer may need to do just that with Late Autumn; the willing viewer will be amply rewarded with this amazing examination of calm resignation in the face of a life change
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
just a simple family story rendered so touching: a mother and a
daughter were confronted with choice of life when the father died. The
dilemma involves the conflict of traditional Japanese values and modern
The story ends with the mother's self-sacrifice for the daughter's happy marriage. The disintegration of a family to embrace the new generation's happiness, in my eyes , is always cruel but inevitable
The film is tinged with nostalgia and subtle feelings. The end is my favorite: the mother's expression, half sad and suddenly lighted up... quite an antidote to the Hollywood's Happy-end
I have seen practically every film available that were directed by
Yasujirô Ozu. While he's considered by many to be a genius, I would say
that he was an ultra-conservative--a man who developed some interesting
techniques and story ideas but never really changed with the times. So,
if you see an Ozu film from 1935, 45, 55 or the early 60s, there is an
amazing sameness about them--something no other director ever
accomplished. This is not criticism--this is fact. Ozu did stories
about the Japanese family--and very often about widowed parents
striving to get their now adult children married. And, his actual
techniques didn't vary much. Although "Late Autumn" is in color (a few
of his later ones were), it uses the same stationary camera and floor
level for the shots. Ozu truly was a man who liked to do variations on
the same themes and in the same styles! Because of this, while "Late
Autumn" is expertly crafted, it really isn't innovative in the least
other than making both the main characters women.
This story begins with a memorial service for a man who has been dead for several years. After the service, three friends of the deceased and his widow discuss her as well as her 24 year-old daughter. They love these women and it hurts them to see the daughter is still unmarried despite being a lovely person. So, the three schemers decide that it's their task to get the girl married--whether she likes it or not! Unfortunately, their plans don't always go as they intended and ultimately it takes one of the young lady's friends to give them some assistance.
Other than this film be very mildly comic as well as the use of the three friends, the film is yet another lovely and very deliberately paced Ozu film. If you haven't seen too many of his films, then by all means watch this one. If you have and feel you've gone down this same road many times before, they try a film by another fine director. Even die-hard fans would agree that there is an amazing similarity between this and most of Ozu's films--particularly his later ones.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Viewed on DVD. Restoration = ten (10) stars. A typical entry from this director minus shots of clothes lines and ugly overhead power lines. Instead of woman acting as uninvited/ interfering matchmakers, men assume this disrupting function. (Take just about any film previously made by this director, switch matchmaker gender roles, and you have the essence of the movie.) Powerful performances by the leading actresses dominate the film with most trying mightily (but not especially convincingly) to appear many years younger than they are in reality. They also provide some very funny line readings. Performances delivered by lead male actors are dull, colorless, two dimensional, and DE FACTO supporting roles. The film is much too long with too many boring scenes and sequences. Except for some exterior hiking scenes, the movie is studio bound. Phony street scenes and interior sets (especially of bars) look the same as those seen in other films from this director. Cinematography (color) is fine given the confines of being limited to static compositions and an old-time, narrow-screen aspect ratio. Subtitles could greatly benefit from further professional editing of grammar. They are often too long and gratuitous. Music mostly consists of cloning from the director's other films. A drug-free way for dealing with insomnia. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
In many ways a retread of his earlier masterpiece Late Spring, which
dealt with the relationship between a widowed father and his marry-able
daughter, Ozu returned to familiar territory as he often did late in
his career for a look at the flip-side. Here, the mother is widowed and
desires to see her daughter married and happy. Three friends determine
to intervene, leaving a trail of misunderstandings and hurt feelings in
their attempt to appease all involved.
While this is certainly a familiar story for Ozu to tell, he somehow manages to inject new life into it every time out. Through a beautiful color palette and his famous visual style, Ozu explores a world of postwar Japan that finally appears to be picking itself up fifteen years after World War II. Western dress and behavior continues to seep into Japanese culture and Ozu seems to be picking up on the rapid evolution of change within his country throughout these late career works. His lack of interest in plot and storytelling leaves the viewer more time to focus on the atmosphere, the context in which the story is set. The result is a very pensive and serene feeling as one realizes that no matter what time or place, humans will always desire certain things. Companionship, love and happiness will never go out of style, even for widowed women.
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