Thursday, April 14, 2016

#577: Late Spring

Directed by: YASUJIRO OZU
1949, TSPDT Rank #65

This film struck me as being relatively light and humorous compared to other family dramas from the latter half of Ozu's career - although I admit that I am not even close to having seen all of them. The story involves a daughter's unwillingness to leave her widowed father in order to get married - a simple plot which Ozu presented numerous variations on over the course of his career. However, Ozu's distinctive low-angle visual style is as humbling and intimate here as it ever was, with some of his best visual poetry also on display - especially in exterior scenes which place the titular season in the foreground. Ozu named many of his films after seasons, and he never assigned his titles arbitrarily. In this case, "late spring" refers to the daughter's state of full bloom, being in her late 20s and almost past the prime marrying age - a point which, from the perspective of the film's characters, makes her marriage a matter of utmost importance. Much of the film assumes a semi-comic tone which keeps it from feeling emotionally overwrought, but the climactic scene between father and daughter, soon before the daughter's impending marriage, must rank among the most powerful moments in Ozu's filmography. It may not pack the same overall emotional punch as Tokyo Story, but nevertheless, Late Spring still displays Ozu's meditative and sensitive approach in full force - making for a feeling of intimacy which few other filmmakers have ever been able to achieve.

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