Early Summer (1951)
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as Aya Tamura
as Sotaro Satake
as Tami Yabe
Critic Reviews for Early Summer
If you've seen one Ozu film, you probably have the drift of his austere, quiet style, and you don't need my recommendation. If you haven't, take a chance.
Rich look at romantic lives of everyday Japanese, with a profound lesbian subtext.
in keeping with the shift in seasons, there is a comic lightness to the proceedings - even if, as the film draws towards its conclusion, we become increasingly aware of autumn's chilly approach.
The usual Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece about the clash in family life over traditional and modern values in postwar Japan.
Ozu's films fill me with such a profound sense of serenity and emotional richness that it makes me wonder why people rent or buy anyone else's movies.
Audience Reviews for Early Summer
There is a great harmony in everything about this film, which has a Japanese family of three generations wondering if it's time for the 28-year-old daughter (Setsuko Hara) to get married, and proposing an opportune match. Director Yasujiro Ozu uses many of his trademarks, both in content (e.g. two rascally little boys adding a cute element) and in style (e.g. with regular use of those shots from the mat, directly into a character's face as he or she speaks). While some of those things and the overall primness of the film threatened to get on my nerves, I have to say, I enjoyed it, and it finished strong. In the film, Ozu gives us lessons in being gentle, patient, and bearing with the inevitable changes in life, and he does it in a simple way. Hara seems to be constantly smiling and cheery which may seem a little one-dimensional, but she ultimately stands up for herself in her own, non-confrontational way. The conversation she has with her friend, where the two discuss whether a love based on trust and friendship is true love, is deeply meaningful. The conversation she has with her sister-in-law while they're at the beach, the only one Ozu ever used a crane for, and where they talk about sacrifice and living a life without a lot of money, is as well. The film gradually builds you to these strong late scenes, so if you're less into it early on, I would encourage patience. The subtle way in which a possible marriage is discussed, and not directly by the two involved (being intentionally vague here), is both cute and an insight into the culture. There are also universal, sentimental themes. The mother and father (Chieko Higashiyama and Ichiro Sugai) turn in strong performances, and the scene where they talk about a son who was missing in action in the war is striking. Their posing for a family picture, all smiles and jovial between takes, but then looking solemn before the picture is taken, is fantastic. The father's silence and patience as events in his family unfold culminates eventually in him recognizing that we all wish we could stay together with family members as they are, but that things inevitably change. It's quite beautiful.
Ozu is a master and telling simple stories about family, one of my favourite subject matters. A great story of tradition and modern life that truly reflects Japan with it's traditional cultures vs being on the cutting edge.
All bow before the three-headed God of Ryu, Hara and Ozu!
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