Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. Japan, 1957. Shôchiku Eiga. Screenplay by Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu. Cinematography by Yuharu Atsuta. Produced by Shizuo Yamanouchi. Music by Takanobu Saito. Production Design by Tatsuo Hamada. Film Editing by Yoshiyasu Hamamura.
The elder of two daughters (Setsuko Hara) has moved back home with her infant to live with her emotionally distanced father (Chishû Ryû) after her marriage falls apart. Her younger sister has gotten pregnant by her roguish university student boyfriend and needs to find him in order to decide what to do next. Things get complicated when they discover that the mother who abandoned them in childhood is now back in Tokyo and wants to see them. This sensitive film by Yasujiro Ozu is much more somber than his films tend to be; there are very few light moments or the delight he takes in showing the banality of every day life. Here his examination of the destruction of the family (a common theme in his work, at least according to Donald Richie) is much darker and devoid of hope, the entire experience overcast with a sense of tragedy and despair. That, plus the weighty running time of 140 minutes, might make it a chore for the unenthused Ozu watcher (and an impossibility for those uninitiated with his works), but fans will be drawn in enough to at least stick to it until the poignant and affecting, if bitter, end.