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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
The strong story and interesting relationships between characters overcome a slow pace and some of the issues I have with Ozu's style, and I have to say, this one stuck with me so I rounded up. There is a harmony to the framing of many of Ozu's shots, but he relies too much on his signature low camera angle, which too often doesn't work as well, at least for me (and I know I'm in the minority, apologies Ozu fans). There is real sass to the female characters Otaka and Otoki, but I wasn't wild about the main character hitting them multiple times, and I also smiled over the weak acting in response to it (holding the hand to the face, and yes, shot from kneecap level).
On the other hand, the film finishes strong, including a very touching scene between father and son, mediated by the mother who tells the young man "Just be a great man. That's all he wants. Since you were born, he's been coming here with that one hope in mind." It goes directly to the heart of all parents. The parallel between father and son, with both of them having a charm about them, attracted to actresses, and casting their lines together in a fishing scene, has a symmetry too it, made poignant by his distance over the years, and the train running off into the night at the end. There is real emotional power here.
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