Friday, May 4, 2007

Tokyo Story

Tokyo monogatari; Drama, Japan, 1953; D: Yasujiro Ozu, S: Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Haruko Sugimura, So Yamamura

The small seaside town of Onomichi is the home of an old married couple, Shukichi and Tomi, who have passed their 60s. One day they decide to pack their things and go for a week to visit their grown up kids in Tokyo. First they arrive in the home of the oldest son Koichi, bu he as a doctor doesn't have time for them, as well as his wife who is busy taking care of the children. Their youngest son Keizo also doesn't have time for them. When they visit their daughter Shige, a hairdresser, they realize she is too busy for them too. Shukichi and Tomi get the only warm welcome from Noriko, the former wife of their deceased son. After a week they return to Onomichi where Tomi dies. All of their kids come to the funeral.

Classic "Tokyo Story", the most praised and well known film from director Yasujiro Ozu, sometimes even regarded as one of the best films of all time, is a slightly overrated and overstretched but still relevant and ambitious achievement that, ironically, gains it's strength from the weaknesses of human relationships, emotions and mentality. The simplest possible story about a visit of grandma and grandpa to their grown up kids in a big city was used as a quiet analysis of the modern Japan where Capitalism sucked in every tradition and human value, and where the fast rhythm of business doesn't give people any time for their relatives. Ozu's rhythm on the other hand is slow, some would say boring, easily putting observations everyone could identify with (for instance, in one sequence the grandson is protesting because his table was moved when the grandparents came to visit, leaving him with no place to learn for school - in the other, father Koichi is so busy with his job that he doesn't have time for the grandparents so he sends them to a hotel! ). Ozu's camera is extremely static - apparently it moves just a few times during the whole film - the emotions understated and the uncomplicated, problematic relationships between the guests and the visitors look as real as the real life, thus it's a pity that the overlong ending reduced the pleasure of this minimalistic film. Of all the actors, the best job was done by Setsuko Hara, simply charming in the role of devoted Noriko.


1 comment:

Cowboy Dev said...

I have to agree. The slightly - dare I say - overexaggerated acting wears a tad thin though I do like the actress who plays Noriko. I like Ozu's previous film, Late Spring much better and I even consider a favorite.