It’s been more than a year since I last saw a film by Yasujiro Ozu and I can tell you it’s been too long. His films always take place in the time they were made and always focus on family. This is not Ozu’s best, but that’s like saying it’s a symphony Mozart wrote while he was having a bad day.
The film is about a married couple. A decent average guy who is content to have green tea over rice (the Japanese equivalent of leftovers). His wife, on the other hand, just can’t seem to see the joy in simple things like having a husband who comes home everyday to be with her. The film starts with her lying to her husband to go to a resort with her friends. Outside their room is some water with carp inside. They all begin to see carps they think look like their husbands, but while they do it in good humor she is nasty about it. Her niece sees that and it makes her angry and worried about the fact that she is of marrying age. From there on we join her and her husband till end of the film when it finally clicks for her why he is happy and why she has every reason to be.
Ozu’s films always sound so dry and simple. Especially when you tell them that Ozu’s camera is almost 100% static, cutting rather than moving. There is a reason the story is dry and simple. Your attention is going to be on the characters. Nine times out of ten you won’t see two characters in frame talking to each other. Instead, Ozu will cut back and forth, each time seeing them talk directly into the camera. This makes everything you see feel intimate. You aren’t just watching, you are there with the characters.
I said this wasn’t one of his best and that’s because it’s a bit too neat and constructed as you move toward the end. Start with Late Spring (1949), Tokyo Story (1953), or Floating Weeds (1959), but make sure to hit this one as well.