An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

No great director confined both his subject matter and technique like Yasujiro Ozu, and this, his final film, sums up so much of what makes that tunnel vision so eloquent. As in his masterpiece, Tokyo Story, and so many other films, Ozu observes, with an amazing blend of discretion and intimacy, the tangled relationships of Japanese families. His camera barely moves, remaining for the most part at the same level, not far above the floor. His editing is leisurely, and he frequently allows scenes to play out in real time. For all of the intense emotions in his stories, there are no confrontations; however, the flickerings of disappointment and resentment across the faces of his characters speak loudly enough. Ozu veteran Chishu Ryu is once again the kindly patriarch, indulging his married son, oblivious to his teenaged boy, and caught up in a relationship of mutual dependence with his daughter. He wants to do right by her, stifling any notion of her independence, only to reverse himself when he understands how selfish his actions are. The daughter is forced to take cues from her father, resigning herself (after a failed romance) to a happy domestic life with her father and younger brother, only to learn that she is to be married after all. Rather than frame this reversal as an act of hypocrisy, Ozu prefers to see it in gently ironic terms. A widower is forced to push away the one person in his life who loves him without demands or reservation. Even if Ozu didn't foresee this as his final film, it ends on a wonderfully elegiac note.