A rich, thoughtful exploration of classism as seen through the eyes of children. Removed from the subtlety of Ozu's later work, I Was Born But...trades in reservation for broad emotions, as is often the case when events are filtered through simpler narrators. The sociology is fundamentally intact, and we as a more experienced audience have the opportunity to understand things that fly over the heads of the sons (like a touchingly relatable scene where the boys are completely humiliated by a show of their father's sense of humor), but when you make a film like this you run the risk of overgeneralization. The boys' frustration is understood and justified, and the film wisely tempers it with the gentle insinuation that you can always improve your situation. Despite that, I felt the movie ultimately painted an incomplete portrait of the family's circumstances and what exactly makes the father's subordination so frustrating; surely even children this young understand that everyone has a boss, right? The dilution of the theme makes the movie simpler to approach and grapple with, but not quite as satisfying in the end. The catharsis isn't as easy to apply to our own lives because, well, we aren't kids anymore. Finally, the film's seemingly pro-assimilation ending has a disconcerting ring to it, dovetailing the film into a sort of hopelessness that explodes in the face of its otherwise uplifting tone.
Still, it's funny, likable and underhandedly intelligent, sneaking up on you with its insight. Definitely worth watching.