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What Did the Lady Forget?

Ozu’s second sound film, though after the heightened sentiment and deep analysis of poverty during the depression seen in “The Only Son”, this wisp of a comedy (71 minutes) feels slight.

In a Tokyo suburb, a professor routinely submits to his commanding wife, a domestic situation that has left the man hunched and humbled. But when a young teenage niece comes to visit, with ideas about smoking and drinking and aggression, the meek medical professor begins to feel empowerment coming on.

The fractious relationship between the forward thinking niece and the traditional aunt is the kind of generational gap that Ozu loves to play up, especially in his more famous melodramas of the 50’s, but though this one is just a nominal comedy of the sexes, it’s planting seeds for later greatness. And as always, the mise-en-scene is perfection.