The Munekata Sisters ★★★★

A generation parts the siblings.
A husband wanders with cats.
A tongue can't help but stick out.

Often mentioned as the worst Ozu for a number of reasons: he worked with Toho, who forced him to used their sets; the novel he adapted is a bit heavy handed; and the younger sister played by Naruse regular Hideko Takamine is no Setsuko Hara. Of course, these details are the kind of thing that really stick out for more hardline auteurists than this Ozu novice, so I found this all quite touching. First and foremost is the performance of Takamine, who brings a much more loose and physical quality to the screen than any other performer I've seen in one of his films. Her playful gestures (that tongue! Her dancing and singing too) and movements suggest the disruption she brings to the family. If the melodrama is a bit stronger in terms of the fates of certain characters, I still think Ozu sells the central relationship between the sisters, and there’s at least one gorgeous moment where rain suddenly pours down and the characters watch it fall.