28 February 2010 | zetes
Hard to find classic now on DVD from Criterion
It took me a while to get into this one. It's kind of awkward and uncomfortable, but it turns out that's largely the point. The story is about an elderly married couple (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi) who lose their house to the bank. None of their five children has enough room for both of them, so they end up breaking up, supposedly temporarily, to live in the homes of two of their children. Moore goes with his daughter (Minna Gombell) and Bondi goes with her son (Thomas Mitchell). Much of the movie focuses on Bondi living with her son's family (Fay Bainter is Mitchell's wife and Barbara Read his daughter). It's Hell for all of them. Bondi's old fashioned ways are annoying to the family. She herself feels out of place and confused, having lived with her husband for 50 years. Meanwhile, Moore is having just as awful a time at his daughter's place. The whole picture finds its way to one of the most satisfying and powerful final acts I've seen, where the old couple finally reunites. It's pretty much the first time in the film we see them spend a significant amount of time together, and these two people who seemed so awkward apart feel like a whole together. We see their love, we feel for what they've lost. It's absolutely gorgeous. The very end of the film is a killer. I've never quite seen a film like this (well, Tokyo Story is obviously in part based on this). On a rewatch, I think it may be a lot stronger, but I liked it a heck of a lot this time around.