Early Summer ★★★★

One thing I’ve noticed about my response to many of the Ozu films has been that as great and masterful his unconventional style is, I’m finding it hard relating his shooting style as perhaps necessary in relation to the on screen drama, or at least not bringing me more intimate with its characters. Early Summer changed that feeling for me, particularly in the fantastic design of the home and its spaces. Each sliding door has its function; each room creates a boundary between characters, ideas, and beliefs. During Noriko’s break down at the end of the film, she first goes to the kitchen to avoid showing her feelings to her family, but ultimately must retreat all the way upstairs because of her shame. In many ways, the tragedy of Early Summer sneaks up much more cautiously than in any of Ozu’s other films; Noriko gets what she want, but the film still ends in a melancholic state as the father and mother watch their family slowly grow apart, the seeds of their family carried across the floating barley at the end of the film.