Kylts’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ozu is always such a lovely and simple pleasure and it's no different in his first sound film The Only Son. My favourite thing about his filmmaking has always been the manipulation of simple plots, so this was especially lovely, for me, since it's probably the most light of the films from him, that I've seen, in terms of plot and characters. (even for Ozu)
As always family dynamics are explored: here, with a widowed mother coming to visit her son in Tokyo. Shown at the start, she has worked selflessly for her son to get a secondary education, that was seemingly forced by the son. Upon arrival, she finds her son working a lacklustre, low-paying job as a night-school teacher, with a wife and child, that he hasn't told her about. This is the core, and typical with Ozu, it's dealt with care and depth with a few secondary characters mirroring their situation in various ways. One of the most effective, a former teacher who ironically granted the request for the son's secondary education at the start, played by the always charming Chishu Ryu. (perma-smile set to 11, of course)
All the hallmarks of his later films are here in full effect, the life lessons, reaching understandings and the lingering sense of melancholy with a few hard-hitting moments, all the while brimming with charm. If you told me this was one of his later films I would honestly believe it, it fits seamlessly. This time, the film's backdrop is that of poverty and the notion of success.
Not one of my favourites from Ozu initially, but I'm sure upon numerous rewatches it'll move up the ranks, like so many of his films have done.