14 August 2019 | boblipton
The Autocrat Of The Breakfast Table
Tsumasaburô Bandô is a terror to his wife and six children -- and the dog next door barks when he comes home. His construction business is in trouble; he's run out of money for his current project and can't get a loan, so he's marrying his daughter, Toshiko Kobayashi, to the son of a wealthy family, who will invest. She doesn't like him. That's not the only source of his dissatisfaction. His eldest son wants to quit his job as an executive for the company to go into business making music boxes. His second son plays the piano beautifully, but doesn't earn any money. Everyone else has their own version of these problems. Plus the household help keeps quitting.
It's a loud, ugly, but ultimately soft-hearted comedy from Keisuke Kinoshita. Bandô seems to have no interest but business, and roars at any in his family who cross him; the dialogue indicates that offscreen, he beats them. Can a family survive such a harsh father? Is there any way to make him change his mind about anything?
The character portraits as drawn in script and actor are good work, but in the end, it's a little too rambling, there are two many people to keep track of. In the end, they pop in and out, disappear halfway through, and appear out of nowhere. Maybe they shouldn't have had so many kids, and it would have been a better, more focused comedy. Even so, it's an engrossing movie.