Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Japan, 1962. Shochiku Eiga. Screenplay by Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu. Cinematography by Yuharu Atsuta. Produced by Shizuo Yamanouchi. Music by Takanobu Saito. Production Design by Minoru Kanekatsu. Costume Design by Yuji Nagashima. Film Editing by Yoshiyasu Hamamura.
Yasujiro Ozu’s final film is a thing of beauty. Gorgeously shot in bright colours, it stars Ozu favourite Chishû Ryû as a widower who, as in many of the master’s films, begins to get involved in the marital affairs of his daughter. He and his old school chums entertain their grade school teacher at a reunion and Ryu is horrified when he discovers that his teacher’s aging daughter is a lonely old maid. Anxious that his own daughter not end up the same way, Ryu begins to arrange for her marriage. Naturally it doesn’t happen too smoothly, as matters of the heart are rarely so simple, but what really marks Ozu’s treatment of this material is the bittersweet sentiments that are explored. While it is good for the young woman to move ahead and find love and settle down with a husband, it is destructive to the family unit for there to be so great a change in the household; marriage leads not to happiness and fulfillment but to an empty house overcome by loneliness. All the subtle grace and domestic beauty of the great director’s work is evident in this ultimate masterpiece, a gorgeously affecting film that is among his best.