When the patriarch of the Toda family suddenly dies, his widow discovers that he has left her with nothing but debt and married children who are unwilling to support her--except for her most thoughtful son, just returned from China.
A young boy follows Tashiro home to his tenement housing complex on the outskirts of Tokyo, the boy who was separated from his carpenter father somehow and somewhere in Kudan. All Tashiro ... See full summary »
Ryoichi and Chikako are brother and sister. They live together. Chikako works during the day in a office and at night she prostitutes herself to fund her brother studies in univesity. ... 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
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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