Subarashiki Nichiyobi (One Wonderful Sunday) Reviews
Both Yuzo and Masako are struggling to make ends meet as office workers earning meager pay. Yuzo is a former soldier sharing a tiny apartment with a roommate. Masako still lives with her large family in a "tiny house". He is the more pragmatic of the two but is becoming more and more morose about his financial situation (which doesn't appear likely to improve any time soon.) He smokes cigarette butts he finds on the sidewalk because he cannot afford to buy his own. She, on the other hand, is the more cheerful and optimistic of the two - able to foresee a much brighter and happier future. Masako can even put a positive spin on it when Yuzo notices the holes on the soles of her shoes - "the better they are to drain when they get wet."
Early in the film, Masako tries to persuade Yuzo to look at a model home. He is reluctant to enter. For Yuzo, the selling price of the home (100,000 yen) is a seemingly unobtainable figure. Meanwhile, Masako imagines the types of furniture she will place in each room. Yuzo scolds her for being an unrealistic dreamer, "We have to face reality to survive in a world like this." But Masako counters, "This is the kind of world where you need dreams the most..."
They next inquire about a small apartment that is up for rent. In one of the films more humorous moments - the apartment manager all but discourages the couple from renting. As the couple try to figure out if they can afford to live there - they are distracted by some kids playing baseball, prompting Yuzo to join in on the fun.
This baseball scene is something one can very easily connect with if you are a fan of baseball. The japanese kids yell the exact same "phrases" as their american counterparts. What really surprised me was Kurosawa's choice of music here - after a wayward baseball wrecks the sign hung near a store. All the kids scatter, of course...but the music is from Bizet's "Carmen" - the very same music used by director Michael Ritchie in his 1976 BAD NEWS BEARS - one of my all time favorite baseball flicks!!!
Very memorable too is the scene where amidst the rubble and ruin, Yuzo and Masako pretend to own a cafe. There is also a playground scene - with swings - that foreshadow Kurosawa's marvelous film IKURU.
These are some of the film's happier moments...but the mood will swing the other way too as Yuzo's mood becomes grimmer as the day progresses - as the reality of Tokyo's economic straits becomes more evident to the viewer. They encounter a hungry street waif. They have a run in with some street toughs scalping concert tickets . Yuzo's plan to visit a wartime buddy who now owns a nightclub goes terribly astray when the maitre'd mistakes Yuzo for a...(sorry, this will probably be a spoiler)!!!
When the couple finally retreats to Yuzo's apartment is when Kurosawa is at his cinematic best here with long stetches without dialogue. It becomes heartbreaking to watch as when Masako - the seemingly eternal optimist - surrenders to tears.
This is considered one of Kurosawa's lesser film - but I disagree. It's billed as a neo-realist film and does remind one of the style of THE BICYCLE THIEVES or UMBERTO D - but this film predates them both. One of the characters will break the "fourth wall" and address the audience directly - which may or may not work for you - but I understand Kurosawa's intent.
I think this is one fabulous film with much food for thought!!!
Yuzo and Masako are an engaged couple that meet up in the city for a date on Sunday. The poor couple only have 35 yen for the day, and during this time, they meet (un)usual characters of postwar Tokyo, play a little baseball with kids, look at new houses they cannot afford, get into a fight with ticket scalpers, and watch the rest of Tokyo start to rise, talk about their dreams of marriage and opening a bakery. Some scenes near the end dragged a bit, especially after the quarrel. But then again, this was before Godard invented the jump-cut time lapse, which would have really helped here. But overall, a journey well-taken, and a very good film that shows Kurosawa was up and coming.
On pourrait dire que c'est du néoréalisme japonais. Avec une petite touche de Frank Capra. Mais bon, en ce qui me concerne je me lasse rapidement du misérabilisme dans lequel verse un peu trop ce film. On a l'impression que ça progresse beaucoup trop lentement. Mais bon, c'est vraiment pas tout mauvais, juste que comparé au reste de l'oeuvre de Kurosawa, c'est pâle un peu.
It's almost like a lightweight version of The Lost Weekend. There are no debilitating problems like alcoholism or writer's block. There are just obstructions and inconveniences with which the characters can either roll or stew around.
One Wonderful Sunday is a beautiful slice of life from a time that could be many different times in many different places. It's a peaceful movie about the peace that is always there for a given person, their journey being to find it. I have rarely seen a sequence so beautifully crafted on film as the two lovers in the empty, decaying concrete exterior auditorium, where one resolves to create the music they have been struggling to hear. There is hardly a handful of filmmakers living today that would think of such a thing. Kurosawa may have had the clearest, purest understanding of cinema out of any filmmaker.