Munekata kyoudai (The Munekata Sisters) (1950)
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Critic Reviews for Munekata kyoudai (The Munekata Sisters)
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Audience Reviews for Munekata kyoudai (The Munekata Sisters)
I'm so lucky to be living close to a cinema that is showing an Ozu Retrospective for the entire month, especially one with many free screenings. This was one of the free ones and I'm quite glad about that as it is certainly one of Ozu's lesser works. The Munekata Sisters is based on a novel that was very big at the time. The whole production was big, being the biggest budgeted Japanese film at the time. It even managed to pull Ozu from his usual studio. As such, there seems to be more pressure on Ozu to do something different, which just isn't Ozu. There's obviously a lot of familiar ground here. With marriage and family being the key focus. However, it is overly dramatic. Not so much into the realms of laughable melodrama, but the fight between the old fashioned Setsuko and the "new fashion" Mariko. I never felt the bond of sisterhood that strongly. It seemed more like a mother daughter relationship. Hiroshi is also just a very flat character. He is simply a lure from Setsuko's husband. He is perfect, kind, rich, funny, patient, etc. But only because we rarely see him. One interesting facet is Mariko's attempt to procure Hiroshi for herself, because if he can't be with her sister, Mariko doesn't want him with anyone. Mariko is really the star, and should have been the main focus. He tomboyish nature manifests in cute moments, as she enacts her version of Hiroshi's dates, and constantly sticks out her tongue. Ryu is underused in this film, but serves as a great metaphor for the unpredictable nature of life. Don't allow this to be your introduction to Ozu, but visit it after you are familiar with his films.
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