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6,105 Ratings

Tokyo Story

東京物語 | Tōkyō Monogatari

Directed by Yasujirô Ozu
Japan, 1953


An ageing couple travel from their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling, postwar Tokyo. Their son and daughter don’t have much time to spend with their parents, and so it falls to Noriko, the widow of their younger son who was killed in the war, to keep her in-laws company.

Our take

A masterpiece in radical subtlety, Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story is less concerned with plot than it is feeling. Crafted in his compassionate, contemplative style, this sensitive, quiet miracle of a film patiently reveals universal truths: about families, and moreover, the cycles and rhythms of time.

Tokyo Story Directed by Yasujirô Ozu
True to Ozu’s low-level tatami-eye, we’re there with them at every turn. You participate—save rare instances of sentimental music, Ozu leaves you to behold what’s said and unsaid without relying upon dramatic shots. Instead, he shoots everything square and symmetrical—life is messy but that’s how it fits. Young or old, turbulence helps comprise life’s geometry.
February 08, 2017
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The film embodies Ozu’s signature style, which consists of seemingly slow-moving plot and humbly low camera placement. It’s widely considered his masterpiece, yet it rejects critical examination. It exists just as his characters do, wholly and unremarkably, and alive in the truest sense of the word. To scrutinize an Ozu film is, like poetry, to vitiate its essence; to ask “why?” is to miss the point completely.
May 06, 2016
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Their visual and thematic consistency can cause some to decry him for having made the same film over and over again (some similar titles can also add to this verdict), but within such standard formal patterns, Ozu conveys remarkable differences from film to film. Desser points out that Ozu considered himself a craftsman, or something akin to a tofu maker; he made one kind of film, but he did it exceedingly well with great care. If that is indeed the case, Tokyo Story may be his finest product.
November 29, 2013
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What are people saying?

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    Yes, it's a masterpiece, but that status is dangerous. Canon-crawlers new to Ozu are most likely to start here, and this supremely low-key classic is not the best entry point: for that, check out something like Late Spring. Then revisit Tokyo Story and believe the hype, as its initially banal interactions build into a rich portrait of an ordinary family and the forces (both natural and societal) that pressure them.

  • Chris_Parker's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    A relentlessly dark poem about the futile and self-defeating results of choosing life over death. A camera was invented to capture objective truth and Tokyo Story, with its fixed pictorial compositions, attempts to capture reality from a somewhat distant perspective, and in doing so it reaffirms the central theme at the heart of all of Ozu’s film - the absolute, intrinsic loneliness of human existence.

  • Stevie's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    A guarantee on a top 10 films of all time list. Setsuko Hara is fantastic and Ozu's recurring themes of modernity replacing tradition are in full flow. You can see the influence that McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow had on the film. Absolutely sublime.

  • Harry Rossi's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    So subtle and gentle that it almost flew right past me. But luckily I managed to grab on for the ride. My 2nd Ozu experience was just magical. The acting, visuals and composition were real perfection. This movie also just really affected me deeply, but not in the way I expected. I wasn't bawling at the end, but I definitely had a lot to let sink in. Life can be disappointing at times, and that's just the sad truth.

  • Adam Cook's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    Tokyo Story is a simple, beautiful film, of quiet devastation. It is a rare story, devoid of contrivance, and full of humanity. The plot is seemingly mundane, but with the storytelling of the revered Japanese auteur, Yasujiro Ozu, it is dramatic and engrossing... Read my full essay:

  • EdieMaas's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    A culture, a family, shots, so composed, meticulous, static, restrained… Ozu presents a veneer so taut, so bulging with resonance that the poignancy can only burst out, through the cracks between images, in sudden little streams. Montage as emotional release, till the film is saturated with the quiet overflow of generations of feeling... No melodrama could be so deeply, insidiously affecting. Deserves all its praise.

  • Wee Hunk's rating of the film Tokyo Story

    I'm not the right audience for Ozu, but I can appreciate what he does. There's an amazing scene near the end where Kyoko is talking to Noriko. They are talking about people being selfish. Kyoko asks "Isn't life disappointing?" and Noriko smiles pleasantly and says "Yes it is".

  • João''s rating of the film Tokyo Story

    Once you get used to the mastery of Ozu's directive style, the real geniality in this film is that certain ambiguity that will make you think about what's right and wrong, what's good and what's bad, or what's really worth in life; if we must take the time to care and love each other (not only our parents) or if we earn the right to be selfish once we become independent adults.

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