Late Spring ★★★★

Ozu tells stories about small gestures that represent huge emotions; what actually happens in Late Spring could be laid out in a short sentence, but the depth and detail and complexity in every character, every scene, continue unraveling for the time between viewings, perhaps for years. Cultural distance from the father and daughter (Chishū Ryū and Setsuko Hara) in postwar Japan attempting to negotiate an overdue separation neither of them truly wants is irrelevant when confronted with the nuanced realities of inner lives and familial and platonic relationships explored and felt out here. Half a century and half a world away, Mike Leigh owes everything to Ozu's empathetic storytelling, which burdens and lifts us with the profoundest possible sense of bearing witness. The weight of sadness or happiness in various moments I could specify but won't, in case you've not seen the film yet, is magnified immeasurably in memory, something that places this about as close to real life as a movie can get while remaining richly cinematic and gripping. Let it take you away and let its unforced feelings chase your own; my heart already swells a little at the thought of it.