15 October 2011 | tomgillespie2002
Another delight from the master
Businessman Wataru (Shin Saburi) is continually approached by his friends and co-workers for advice and help, especially when it concerns potential marriages for their daughters. He is approached by Mikami (Ozu regular Chisu Ryu) who is concerned that his daughter has gone off with a man from a lesser family with a low-paid job. He agrees to meet her and try to talk some sense into her. One day at work, he is approached by a man named Maniguchi (Keiji Sada) who asks for his daughter's hand in marriage. Wataru is horrified that his daughter Setsuko (Ineko Arima) has been seeing this man without his knowledge, and insists that marrying him is not the right decision.
Japanese master is again on familiar ground with this gentle drama. Again, he explores themes of family, and change in a post-war Japanese society. Wataru is not a traditionalist by nature - he is generally quite open-minded, but only when it comes to his friend's families. When he has tea with one of Setsuko's friends, she explains how her mother is obsessed with finding her a match with a man with a decent job and background. Wataru is agreed that her mother is stuck in her ways. It becomes clear that Wataru is simply a father who cannot let go of his daughter. It's a sentiment that anyone, even those without children, can relate to.
Ozu does make a point of showing the increasing differences in attitudes between the generations. The parents are children of war. Wataru and his wife Kiyoko (Kinuyo Tanaka) discuss memories of being in the bomb shelters. Ozu doesn't want us to see the elders as narrow-minded and old-fashioned, but instead as people who grew up with danger and death all around them, and clearly hold protection and security in high regard, and for good reason. However, Ozu does show the women of Equinox Flower as the stronger sex, and the biggest advocates for change. Kiyoko tries to change Wataru's mind, but realises that this is a decision he will make on his own.
The film is full of Ozu's usual traits, including the usual gorgeous cinematography - and this is his first to be shot in colour. His camera is ever-still, watching from low angles, usually through doorways. He is offering his audience a window into these people's lives, and allows them to give their naturalistic courtesies as they would if no-one was watching. It is a delight watching a true master at work, and it's amazing how he finds fresh and fascinating ways to explore similar themes. I've never seen any of his films that haven't been anything less than brilliant, and I'm still to see his widely celebrated Tokyo Story (1953). An absolute delight.