Quick recap: An older couple visit their adult children in Tokyo, only to find out they have raised selfish jerks who only care about themselves.
Fun (?) fact: Director Yasujirô Ozu never married and lived with his mother his whole life which comes as no surprise, given the context of the movie.
My thoughts: I was NOT prepared for this movie. Like, at all, in any way prepared. I didn’t think I would need to, because it seemed like a run of the mill boring film and I already imagined the snarky responses I would write after it was all over. Two hours later, as the final scene fades and the credits come on, I’m a sobbing mess trying desperately to lure the cats over to comfort me in my time of need. They weren’t having it, by the way. My sudden sadness and crying startled them out of their sleep only moments earlier and I imagine this is a grudge they will be carrying for awhile.
The film’s surface level blandness is what drew me in initially. There is never anything explosive that happens in the film or anything remotely scandalous. When I first read the synopsis for the movie I imagined it was the sort of thing mothers took their children to, in order to guilt them for not visiting more. It’s this blandness that makes the film so moving, though. I knew from the very beginning that the mother was going to die and yet it was still a shock when it happened and something I took as a personal loss because I had just seen her life for two hours. She was not a perfect person and not even spectacular, but an ordinary woman, just trying to visit her family one last time. Her absence at the end of the film is a void that I have never experienced in any other movie up until this point.
The never ending sweetness of the couple was a little much at times, but I don’t know if that was the director’s intent or if it was a mirror of the culture. The adult children did seem especially selfish, but not in a sinister way. At one point, they decide to send their parents to a resort bath because they can’t be bothered taking them around them city. It was a jerk move, but in their defense they had very busy jobs that would have been difficult to get away from. There are hints that the family has had its own share of trouble- one son was killed in the war and seemed like an ass before he died. His widow is the one that shows the most kindness, offering to take the couple around and letting the mother sleep in her house when they had nowhere else to stay. The father was also apparently a heavy drinker when he was younger which might explain some of the coldness his children feel towards him but still doesn’t really excuse their actions.
I could go on and on about this movie and what I learned, but it’s really something somebody has to experience for themselves. I wouldn’t even say that the biggest commentary is about parent relationships but instead about death itself and its finality.
Final review: 5/5
Up next: Close Encounters of the Third Kind