22 November 2004 | Snow Leopard
Light & Entertaining, Yet Rather Perceptive
While somewhat lighter than most of Ozu's features, this is still a rather perceptive film that is also entertaining to watch. The situation and the characters are all straightforward, yet Ozu's expert eye sees plenty of things worth considering, and each simple story development has a purpose. If the material remains generally lightweight when compared to some of his other movies, it still has the same thoughtful, low-key touch and genuinely human characters.
The young boys drive much of the story in this one, and they are very believable, whether in their petulant responses to parental authority or in their schoolboy fads. Some of the latter can be slightly off-putting at times, but then such things do rather ring true with the nature of boys at that stage of their lives.
The cast is quite large, so that none of the characters gets a lot more screen time than any of the others, yet somehow all of them not only come alive, but get some defining moments. Most of the adult characters are simple, yet easy to care about, and there are several good performances. The grandmother character and the aunt of the two brothers are probably the most interesting of the characters, yet all of them have a purpose.
As is usually the case with Ozu's movies, you can watch it a second time and see additional detail in the characters' relationships and dialogue. This time, the issues involved are not as significant as usual, yet the simple plot provides some insights into the ways that families and neighbors communicate with one another and understand one another. It's probably more entertaining than enlightening, but yet there is some substance as well.