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Tokyo Family (2013)
"Tôkyô kazoku" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  19 January 2013 (Japan)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 675 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 15 critic

In this update of Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story", a retired schoolteacher and his wife visit their three working children in modern-day Tokyo.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Isao Hashizume ...
Shukichi Hirayama
Kazuko Yoshiyuki ...
Tomiko Hirayama
Masahiko Nishimura
Yui Natsukawa
Tomoko Nakajima
Shozo Hayashiya
...
Masatsugu
...
Noriko Mamiya
Nenji Kobayashi
Jun Fubuki
Narumi Kayashima
Ryûichirô Shibata
Ayumu Maruyama
Chika Arakawa
Mai Nishida
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Storyline

An old married couple Shukichi Hirayama and Tomiko live on a small island in the Inland Sea. They go to Tokyo. The couple have 3 children. The eldest son Koichi runs a hospital. The first daughter Shigeko runs a beauty salon. The second son Shuji works in stage art. The families ask the parents to take a rest in Tokyo, but the parents do not like staying in Tokyo. One day, Tomiko visits Shuji's apartment. There, Tomiko is introduced to Shuji's fiancé Noriko, but Tomiko collapses at Koichi's house. Written by anonymous

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Drama

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19 January 2013 (Japan)  »

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Tokyo Family  »

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1.85 : 1
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Remake of Tokyo Story (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ozu's Timeliness Not Fully Captured by This Dutiful Update
17 June 2014 | by (San Francisco, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

Updating a classic as revered as Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" is no small feat, and it is left to former Ozu protégé Yôji Yamaha along with co-screenwriter Emiko Hiramatsu to contemporize a film that managed the magical feat of being timeless and of its time (post-WWII Japan). Yamaha was 82 when he directed this overlong 2013 drama, and there is a sense of gravitas to his approach which could be seen as a respectful tribute to his mentor. However, what's missing is the deep sense of melancholy of the original, the delicate emotionalism which was well matched by empathetic performances from Ozu's regular players, chief among them the legendary Setsuko Hara's beautifully modulated turn as Noriko. This character has been relegated to a smaller role here, and this is just the beginning of the problems with the new film made exactly sixty years after the original.

The plot follows the same basic framework. Retired teacher Shukichi Hirayama his wife, Tomiko live on a small island near Hiroshima. They come visit their grown children in Tokyo for a few days. There were five children in the original film, the youngest a schoolteacher who lived with them. This time there are three, probably a more accurate demographic for current-day Japan, but like the first story, the elderly couple is shuttled around rather mercilessly by their children who are leading their own hectic lives. They first visit with elder son Koiichi, a local doctor, his wife and two kids. Then there is the snippy daughter Shigeko who has a buffoonish husband and runs a hair salon. Last is youngest son Shoji, a freelance set designer who barely scrapes by but doesn't seem to mind. Noriko is no longer a widow central to the story on her own but rather Shoji's hidden girlfriend, the one who eventually provides the bridge to his largely estranged parents.

As anyone familiar with "Tokyo Story" will know, tragedy strikes, and the surviving family comes to terms with what remains of their elusive bonds with one another. Zeroing in on three children would lead one to believe deeper characterizations would follow, but Yamaha and Hiramatsu seem so intent in evoking the original story, the opportunities are lost. Even passing mentions of the Fukushima earthquake and the country's pallid economic state do little to make the story feel more vibrant and relevant. The cast is proficient but variable when it comes to lasting impact. As Shukichi, Isao Hashizume plays the role in a more standard curmudgeonly fashion than Ozu regular Chishū Ryū, but Kazuko Yoshiyuki hits the right notes as Tomoko. Masahiko Nishimura plays Koichi even more stoically than Sô Yamamura did as the role remains elliptical at best.

In the comparatively showy role of Shigeko, Tomoko Nakajima stands clearly in the shadow of the memorable Haruko Sugimura who could show respect, pettiness and conniving in a realistically mercurial fashion. However, former teen heartthrob Satoshi Tsumabuki manages to convey a palpable figure out of the puppyish Shoji who loves his mother but remains shaped by his father's disappointment. Yu Aoi has the unenviable task of stepping into Hara's shoes, though her sympathetic likability gets her through her key final scene with Shukichi with surprising poignancy. It would have been unimaginable to conceive of an update that could approach the resonance of the original, and somehow Yamaha proves that point with his overly deliberate pacing. Still, certain scenes like the heartfelt bedside chat between Tomoko and Shoji, well played by Yoshiyuki and Tsumabuki, make this worthwhile for a once-through.


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