An ageing couple travel from their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling, postwar Tokyo. Their reception is disappointing as the children send them off to a health spa. A survey on the rich and complex world of family life.
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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.
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.
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.
Tokyo Story is seen as Ozu's crowning achievement, perhaps because it gives an easy narrative handle to viewers: it is a film about literal loss and death, rather than the more amorphous subject of familial disentegration covered in many of his other films. To me, I have always felt in my gut that Ozu is the greatest film director of all, but I can never explain why adequately...
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: http://thebronze.weebly.com/5/post/2009/07/tokyo-story.html