Tokyo Twilight ★★★★½

The absent mother
Creates a cycle
Amongst a chilly city.
Yearning for warmth
Within family and saké.

Vadim told me the other day that importance of the Ozu retro is to show that “Ozu made many great films before Late Spring.” So of course I’m doing it wrong by finding the late films to be the most affecting works. However, Tokyo Twilight is one rarely brought up in conversation and deserves much closer analysis. In many ways, it’s one of Ozu’s most plotted films in terms of the twists and turns it takes (also his longest running time), as well as probably his most melodramatic in terms of material events of the plot. But for me, it’s his most beautiful because I find myself empathetic to every one of the characters and their narratives, even when they make poor decisions. This is basically a film of everyone trying to make good decisions to help each other but by not telling each other their secrets, they end up hurting each other instead. The film totally justifies what ends up being a very conservative film about family (I’m slightly unsure whether Ozu sees Takako’s final lines as tragic or the moral takeaway). Two things stand out in particular. Firstly, I loved Akikio’s visit to a film noir like French club at midnight, poster of I believe Brando in the background. Secondly, there’s a scene where Takako prepares a bed for Akiko and then approaches her sister. To reach the bed, Akiko does not turn toward her sister, but instead pivots around her, as if not to reveal her face, and thus her inner self, to her sister. This devastated me unlike any other gesture in the Ozus I've seen.

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