by Allan Fish
(Japan 1960 128m) DVD1/2
Two lights in a hallway
p Sanezumi Fujimoto, Maskatsu Kaneko, Tadahiro Tedamoto d Yasujiro Ozu w Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu ph Yuuharu Atsuta ed Yoshiyasu Hamamura m Kojun Saito art Tatsuo Hamada
Setsuko Hara (Akiko Miwa), Yoko Tsukasa (Ayako Miwa), Mariko Okada (Yukiko Sasaki), Shinichiro Mikami (Koichi), Kuniko Miyake (Nobuko), Miyuki Kuwano (Michiko), Nabuo Nakamura (Shuzo Taguchi), Fumio Watanabe (Tsuneo Sugiyama), Chishu Ryu (Shukicki Miwa), Keiji Sada (Shotaru Goto), Shin Saburi (Soichi Mamiya),
Watching Ozu’s late masterwork prior to jotting thoughts down here, I was reminded by a throwaway piece of dialogue from Hitch’s Rebecca when, during the Monte Carlo prologue, Joan Fontaine’s demure heroine tells of how her father, an artist, wasn’t one for variety, preferring to draw or paint the same tree over and over again. He felt, and I quote from memory not verbatim, that once you have found one perfect thing, you should stick to it. Larry Olivier’s Maxim mutters that “I’m a great believer in that myself.” I get the feeling that Yasujiro Ozu might have nodded at such a maxim.
Late Autumn would be the first of two reworkings of his earlier masterpiece Late Spring. Unlike in that film and in his later farewell An Autumn Afternoon, it differs in one vital plot detail. Those two films detailed the attempts of a widower to marry off his young devoted daughter, whereas Late Autumn showcases a widow trying to do the same for her daughter. The widow, Akiko, and the daughter, Ayako, attract the attention of three middle-aged friends of their late husband/father, who become matchmakers in triplicate, with one of them holding out his heart to the widow as well. The young man they find for Ayako, Goto, is at first turned down by her, but then she warms to him. She nonetheless worries at her mother being left alone, and is delighted when she hears that she’s going to remarry. (more…)