|Kinuyo Tanaka, Hideko Takamine|
From Japan Foundation a 35 mm print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Yasujiro Ozu), 22 April 2014
Probably the first screening of this film in Finland.
Yasujiro Ozu, Shochiku's house director, on an excursion in a company called Shintoho. Shintoho provided a strong budget and a wonderful cast, but Ozu had no say on the story and the cast.
There's a variety of interesting locations, the plot is more complex than usually, and there are new faces and situations in Ozu's world.
In theory, this film should be more exciting than a typical Ozu film of the 1950s, but in reality somehow there is not the same urgent intensity as in Ozu's best work.
So I watch this without the compelling engagement that grips me in Ozu's best films, feeling more distanced, more like an observer, yet appreciating many fine Ozu shots and moments.
The film is based on the modern / traditional dichotomy of the Munekata sisters, interpreted by Kinuyo Tanaka (the traditional Setsuko) and Hideko Takamine (the modern Mariko). But the most unusual modern character is that of Yoriko (Sanae Takasugi), Hiroshi's Platonic lady friend, a successful stock broker from Osaka. "She's arrogant. She smells of secrecy", says Mariko. Yoriko leaves Hiroshi: "It's goodbye. I won't see you again. I'm temperamental. I'm true to myself when I swing this way and that".
Interesting aspects include: - Locations such as Kyoto's Saiho-ji Temple ("Moss Temple"), the Yakushiji Temple, and the mountain villa in Hakone. - Memories from Manchuria shared by several characters. - The interest in Hideko Takamine's feminine hips, unusual with Ozu. - The passivity of the men. - Ryosuke Mimura drinks himself to death as an act of revenge. "Mimura's death was intentional. He cast a dark shadow on my heart. I can't marry with that shadow on me. The shadow I'm carrying would ruin you." - "I'm true to myself. The most important thing is not to lie to myself".
The 35 mm print has sometimes a slightly duped look, and for a brief moment there are marks of water or nitrate damage, but on the whole this is a pleasant film experience.