John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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An uncharacteristically melodramatic offering from Ozu that trades his usual portrayal of resigned acceptance of misfortune for a reaction of shock and startling violence. After the war but before her husband has returned, Kinuyo Tanaka is too poor to pay for her toddler's hospital bills and turns to one night of prostitution to get the money. Of course, this ill-fated decision affects her and her relationship with her husband when he does return, despite everyone's acknowledgement that she had no choice. Despite the angst of the plot, Ozu's use of still life shots between scenes, a feature of his later classic films, has a calming effect. This wouldn't be the right place to start with Ozu, however: Late Spring or Tokyo Story are the classics (though his oeuvre is deep and subtle variations on his themes across films create richness).
One of Ozu's lesser known works, A Hen in the Wind is nevertheless a superb exploration of life in Japan in the immediate aftermath of WWII, as encapsulated by one woman's struggle to scrape a living, and pay for her son's medical bills, in the absence of her to-be repatriated husband.
In true Ozu style, the film does not dwell either on her desperation or even depict her turn to prostitution, but instead takes as its focus the tensions between wife and husband following the latter's repatriation when, against the advice of her friend Akiko, Tokiko tells him about the child's illness and her resorting to prostitution.
The film is a deft and subtle portrayal of the tensions between man and wife as a result of Tokiko's act. While her husband sulks and struggles to come to terms with the apparent depths she sunk to in his absence, Tokiko is shown seeking consolation from Akiko, who though generous materially spends a great deal of time chastising Tokiko, first for selling her body and then for being honest with her husband. This ambiguous third character - who might either be very controlling or attempting to educate her friend - adds an extra dimension to Tokiko's loneliness and reminds us of the social paradigms against which she is being judged in wider society. Even after Shuichi visits the brothel at which his wife worked, which employs (atypically for Ozu) a moving camera angle to great effect to portray the intensity of his journey there, where he finds a young prostitute work out of sympathy, he is still unable to forgive his wife (Ozu thus highlights to his audience Shuichi's irrationality), and it takes a climatic scene of sudden and shocking violence, made all the more heart-rendering by Tokiko's subdued and almost pathetic response, for Shuichi to finally accept her actions. Both the lead characters, and the more minor ones, are convincingly portrayed, and none ever resort to melodrama, either in script or performance, to achieve a compelling emotional intensity uncharacteristic of an Ozu film.
Ozu masterfully depicts the social setting through the simple dialogue of Tokiko's cohabitants, which refers frequent references to the rising price of food, and the recurrent motif of what appears to be some sort of stadium in the process of being built. The juxtaposition of the recovery and the difficulties it imposes on individuals helps the viewer relate Tokiko to the wider socio-economic conditions of late 1940s Japan, and echoes the contradiction of Shuichi's empathy for a stranger, whilst not forgiving his wife.
Like Ozu's best known films, this is a family drama, albeit grittier in focus. The camera may move more than usual, but the same elliptic structure and other hallmarks are present. Perhaps it was because it was slightly less subtle than other Ozu films, with emotions laid raw for the audience to see, it has faded into obscurity, but in truth the film is a well crafted exposition of the unforgiving value judgements passed on individuals, painted against the background of Japan's immediate post-war difficulties.
Dark exploration of moral decisions in an extreme situation--Deals with the collateral damage caused by WW2!!
Ozu looks at post-war Japan and doesn't see much he likes; from the drab industrial wasteland in the background to the precarious social position of it's returning veterans and struggling unemployed, simmering shame and violence beneath his usually subdued familial protagonists.
Old school Ozu. this is certainly not his best film. But a good film, it deals with a woman's dilemma of taking care of her family amidst economic crisis and her moral values.
Once again a beautiful work from the legendary filmaker. For the first time, the melodramatic story has an unusal violent twist that has rarely been seen in an Ozu movie. Tanaka Kinuyo is amazing as the lonely and desperate housewife.
Trois travellings de toute beaute, rien que ceci vaut la peine de voir le film !
Un film humaniste plein de tact, merci Ozu !