Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)

Critics Consensus

Floating Weeds boasts the visual beauty and deep tenderness of director Yasujiro Ozu's most memorable films -- and it's one of the few the master shot in color.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 22

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,588
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Movie Info

This 1959 Ozu production centers on the likable but fallible leader of an itinerant acting troupe ("floating weeds" being the Japanese name for such groups), Kimajuro, played brilliantly by Ganjiro Nakamura. The film opens on a lazy, stagnant river as the troupe lays spread about on a boat deck drifting downstream. It's obvious that they're a ragged bunch as they sit fanning themselves and smoking on deck. The boat pulls into a quiet fishing village where the troupe proceeds to canvass the town, hanging up posters and performing impromptu stunts for the inhabitants. Kimajuro and his actress mistress, Sumiko (Machiko Kyo), head to the theatre and secure their cramped quarters above the theatre's main hall. Kimajuro leaves to pay a visit to a local saki bar owned by Oyoshi (Haruko Sugimura), who, years previous, had conceived a child with Kimajuro. The child has grown into a strapping young man, Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), who has a good job at the post office. Kimajuro, although clearly proud of his son, has refused to take responsibility for the child and Kiyoshi thinks Kimajuro is merely his uncle. Unbeknownst to Kimajuro, Sumiko has discovered his secret, and, infuriated, hires a young actress to seduce Kiyoshi. Terrified that his son is falling for this woman of loose morals, Kimajuro has to decide what's most important: keeping his secret safe or saving his son by acknowledging his paternity. ~ Brian Whitener, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (1)

  • Ozu's familiar combination of melancholy regret and buoyant comic gaiety is beguilingly in evidence.

    Jul 28, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The sheer beauty of Ozu's exquisite (and typically eccentric) compositions and the expressive use of sound tell all you need know about the characters, their emotions and relationships.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Ozu is, however, very special in his technique, which by the end of his career, had become very modest, lucid and lovely.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Richly atmospheric, with its expressive use of colour, lyrical cutaways, and masterly interior compositions -- predominantly shot from Ozu's trademark low-level camera position -- impressively illustrating the director's visual artistry.

    Jul 29, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Tom Dawson

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • His spare, slow-moving films are not for all tastes, but once the rhythms are accepted, Ozu's work offers a unique emotional experience.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu. He is the quietest and gentlest of directors, the most humanistic, the most serene. But the emotions that flow through his films are strong and deep.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)

  • Jun 13, 2013
    Well this is my introduction to Ozu and it's a highly overrated one. I mean to long indulged film offered me nothing. One beautiful camera shot in the rain and all of a sudden this has some of the best cinematography ever. A predictable and overly laid out story. Awful, and I mean dreadful acting. I don't see anything classic about this. I will credit the color usage, but other than that this is really not special.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 02, 2009
    <i>"Life's a lottery. You can't always be lucky. I want you to remember that."</i> <CENTER><u>UKIGUSA (1959)</u></CENTER> <b>Director:</b> Yasujiro Ozu <b>Country:</b> Japan <b>Genre:</b> Drama <b>Length:</b> 119 minutes <CENTER><a href="http://s712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/?action=view¤t=Ukigusa.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/Ukigusa.jpg" border="0" alt="Floating,Weeds,Ukigusa,Yasujiro,Ozu,Japan,1959"></a></CENTER> <i>Ukigusa</i> is Yasujiro Ozu's third film in full color, a technique that is finally mastered by him after directing <i>Higanbana</i> (1958) and <i>Ohayô</i> (1959). It is also one of his best films, and a superb, deeply human drama. Although he may be a very complex and deep director, this is one of his most accesible and easiest-to-watch movies, thanks to the charm and joy he put in his filmmaking style this time and the simple plot. He has proved himself once again as a true master. The story begins with a failed travelling acting troupe that arrives to the town where Komajuro Arashi, the aging master of the troupe, long ago left his mistress Oyoshi and his son Kiyoshi, although Kiyoshi was left to think that his real father died and Komajuro is his uncle, since Komajuro feels embarrassed because of being a traveling actor and Kiyoshi building a brighter future as a professionist. However, Sumiko, his present lover, finds out about the situation and becomes jealous, so decides to convince Kayo, the younger actress of the troupe, to seduce Kiyoshi. Besides, from the moment the troupe starts to perform in the town, the audiences are pretty small, arising some problems for all of the actors. This drama is an exquisite, apparently simple experience. Some of the film's talent can be seen not only in the wonderful and 100% Japanese filming locations and sets, but also in the wonderful original screenplay Ozu wrote with Kôgo Noda. The color cinematography is a feast for the senses to watch, and due to the film's focus on the humanity and deep feelings of the characters and their respective personalities, the camera does not need any kind of movement but to just stand still and capture beautiful and balanced images. The talent of Ozu's direction can be appreciated more on the fact that he tends to construct and accurately portray the complexity of the most basic emotions and weaknesses of the human being even in common and simple life events. This characteristic is highly accentuated by the way the dialogues are talked and the performances are made, which actually seem pretty natural. It was a wise decision to have the actress Machiko Kyô in this film, since her performance was probably the best out of the whole bunch. She also appeared in Akira Kurosawa's <i>Rashômon</i> (1950) and in Kenji Mizoguchi's <i>Ugetsu Monogatari</i> (1953). A very interesting moment of the scene is the ending. Whether one may be left disappointed or thrilled, it is in fact, an open ending. I couldn't imagine how such a moving story could end, and I was pretty much satisfied, since normally this kind of films tend to fail in that aspect, which ironically is one of the most important plotwise. I'm aware of the fact that this film is a remake of Ozu's <i>Ukikusa Monogatari</i> (1934), a silent film he directed 25 years before. Although you perfectly know I'm a man of no remakes, I'm planning to see it in a near future. He's one of the few directors that I know of who have remade a film they made, just like Hitchcock did with <i>The Man Who Knew Too Much</i> (1956). Overall, I was pretty much pleased and surprised. It is one of those masterworks that, purposely or not, builds a personal opinion in the audience regarding the events that are portrayed on screen, and even relates the audience to any particular character, offering the option of deep reflection. <i>Ukugusa</i> is an exquisite, superbly-crafted drama and one of the best remakes ever made. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2008
    Maybe I just don't like Japanese films, but this is overrated to the hilt. The story is average and the cinematography isn't as cathartic as most would delude themselves into thinking. It was long and boring but it wasn't just that I disliked - it was Ozu's assuming of self-importance that from the start turned me off the film.
    Jennifer X Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2008
    I love the way this movie is shot. Simple story told beautifully. The kid in this film gives the best performance.
    Tim S Super Reviewer

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