The definition of a realistic family drama. The camera or the technical presentation never seem to want to do anything glossy or beautiful but instead just record action as it happens. The family characters feel like someone you know in your own one and the dialogue makes me sit in reflection afterwards.
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.
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.
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".
What I love about Ozu films is that they make me smile throughout and then cry at the end. His ability to find the charm in the everyday interactions between characters is something that I greatly admire. The themes in 'Tokyo Story' about the youths disregard for the old and then old's disappointment in the youth remains relevant to our modern times. I believe that this truly is a great film that transcends time.