I Was Born, But...

I Was Born, But... ★★★★

"Will they lead the same sorry lives that we have?"

A light-hearted story viewing life in Japan through the eyes of children pivots abruptly in the last act and becomes a powerful meditation on family dynamics, social class and the nature of Japanese masculinity in the 1930s. Then you realize it wasn't an abrupt pivot at all because Ozu had been setting up this meditation all along with his carefully-chosen shots and narrative structure that parallels the lives of adults and children within Japan's social and cultural framework. Then you remember that Ozu is better at this than any other filmmaker in history and wonder why you didn't see it coming. Then you push "Good Morning" to the top of your watchlist.

Special kudos to Mitsuko Yoshikawa for her subtle performance as the mother who holds the family together by negotiating the father's wounded pride and the sons' mounting awareness that the world is fundamentally unfair.

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