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875 Ratings

Café Lumière

Kôhî jikô

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
Japan, Taiwan, 2003


In a distinctly contemporary Tokyo that looks backwards to the city’s disappearing past, Yoko is a writer investigating the life of a modernist composer of the 1930s. She is pregnant by a man she does not want to marry, and has found a kindred spirit in a used-bookstore owner who aids her research.

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Café Lumière Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

Critics reviews

A more explicit homage than even the most Hitchcockian De Palma (commissioned for an Ozu centenary, it acknowledges him upfront), Hou’s worthy hat-tip is no remake, but a personalized rethink with the lightness and depth of a Bill Evans melodic run, although its direct musical reference is Taiwanese composer Jiang Wen-ye… Dexterous cinematography and superficialities like fluorescent lights distance it from Ozu, but the empathy is a bond.
September 24, 2014
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Like Ozu, Hou is mainly nonjudgmental about his characters, though he does manage to suggest over the course of his almost plotless narrative that Yoko and Hajime are somewhat indiscriminate collectors whose preoccupation with music and trains shows more compulsiveness than passion. This may be a critique of contemporary life but if so, it’s a judicious one that only adds to the sense of serene clarity.
January 19, 2006
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