Bakushū (Early Summer) (1951)
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Despite having only seen two Ozu films, he is becoming one of my favourite directors. While Early Summer is slightly more culturally specific than the beautiful Toyko Story, I found it very moving and as a woman very relatable. Noriko, played by the luminous Setsuko Hara, troubles her family and some friends with her apparent lack of desire to marry.
Ozu's style is one of observation, calmly standing back, letting characters reveal or conceal their feelings from each other - and us. Noriko doesn't speak of her reasons for not wanting to marry, leading to speculation. Her boss Satake asks her friend if Noriko is even interested in men, while her parents and siblings worry about her future, something Noriko is not focused on.
Ozu's approach to capturing the story is to include the threads of other people's lives, showing how interwoven everyone is. The meditative wide shots, capturing little domestic moments add texture to the story, elevating small decisions into significant life events - which is a lovely reflection on the truth of most people's lives in the world.
Early Summer shares Toyko Story's interest in the change happening in post-war Japan, as modernity and traditional ways clash. When having lunch with two married friends, and a fellow single friend, the clothes reflect their situations, as Noriko and Aya wearing modern dress, while the married two are dressed in kimonos.
I really loved this, and am eager to explore more Ozu. Early Summer and Toyko Story form part of an unofficial trilogy with Late Spring, so that seems the next obvious film to see.