Saturday, August 23, 2008

Early Summer

Bakushu; Drama, Japan, 1951; D: Yasujiro Ozu, S: Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, Chikage Awashima, Kuniko Miyake, Ichiro Sugai

Toyko. The 28-year old Noriko lives together with her parents and her older brother Koichi, who is married and has two children. Since she is still not married, her boss Sotaru offers her his friend Manabe as a potential husband, who is 40 years old. Still, she doesn't want to get married, which worries her traditional family. One day, her widowed neighbor, doctor Kenkichi, decides to accept an offer to move to Akita, and his mother touches Noriko so much that she decides to marry him and leave with him.

"Early Summer", the second part of Yasujiro Ozu's unofficial 'Noriko trilogy' that was revolving around the sympathetic heroine Noriko, played by wonderful actress Setsuko Hara, has a similar story as the first part, "Early Spring", where the charming heroine in her late 20s was also hassled to get married already. Ozu is a gentle director whose stories don't have any suspense but instead revolve around family and their quiet problems which resonate well with the audience, especially family viewers who can identify themselves with the emotions of the protagonists. The whole film is extremely minimalistic and demands a lot of patience, and once again Ozu's camera is extremely static and moves just on 5 or 6 occasions in the entire film, while the story is built on small details and vignettes, like when Noriko's two friends subtly show they look down on her because they are married and she is not, or humorous, like when Koichi secretly listens behind closed door about Noriko's thoughts on her potential husband or when Noriko secretly eats cake at night with her two friends , but hides it and just puts her hands on her mouth when she hears the little kid woke up and walked through the house. As always, Ozu oozes off too much by wasting too much time on unnecessary subplots that - though subtle at presenting how the new post World War II generation is spoiled while the older one is wise and traditional - becomes too slow and boring at times, yet since Hara is the main heroine, it's hard to deny the whole charm of the film.


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