Late Spring (1949)
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Cast: Chishû Ryû, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka
Plot: Noriko is 27 years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but she wants to stay taking care of her father.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: YES)
Yasujiro Ozu, the undisputed guru of the drama genre, directs one of his simplest yet emotionally touching films ever - Late Spring. Released in the late 1940s, Late Spring could be seen as the launching pad that propelled Ozu's remarkable career as a leading dramatist in Japanese cinema.
Along with fellow artist Akira Kurosawa, Ozu represents the shining beacon of Asian filmmaking from the 1940s to 1960s, often an influential figure in redefining the way dramas about families are shot.
Late Spring showcases Ozu's rigorous use of static camera that is positioned only a few feet from the ground; a perfect level to depict the daily bustle and hustle in a Japanese household, as well as the quieter moments which highlight the relationship between the two principle characters - father (Chishu Ryu) and daughter (Setsuko Hara).
Both of them excel remarkably in terms of character portrayal and emotional realism that are not often seen in modern cinema. Ozu's ability to coax sincere performances out of his cast is almost legendary, and is further exemplified in his latter films like Tokyo Story (1953).
There are moments in Late Spring that can only be described as the work of a genius. Due to strains in relationship between father and daughter, Ozu observes their slow separation from each other from scenes that subtly reveal their inner feelings to direct hints from their body movements.
The final scene is empowering; Ryu’s character sits on a chair, using a small knife to slowly peel a circular layer off an apple skin. The skin eventually drops to the ground, depicting a chapter of life passed, and the beginning of another, only now without his loving daughter whom is ironically forced to marry and leave home by her father.
Late Spring is an Ozu masterpiece that you owe yourself to experience.
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