The fact that this film is 'post-war Ozu' provides an important contextual backdrop - that is, Japan's fascination for things American. Moreover, it is the idea of marrying for love than for traditional duty. With much parallel action at work, the narrative is consumed with trying to match Noriko with suitors. At the same time, marriage becomes conceptually compared with other characters in terms of divorce and tradition.
Again, spatial violation and mimimalistic camera shots are prevalent. Furthermore, Ozu's sense of graphic composition is superb here as each shot - be it an object or room - looks strikingly articulated. I don't want to spoil the final scene - however I will say that it is one of the finest moments in the history of cinema.
See this film and you will love the father, as you will the daughter, and even the interfering Aunt. Its not just Ozu's excellent sense of humanism but his ability to share the emotional resonance of his characters with the viewer. Wait for that final scene and be spellbound! Ironically, if it hadn't been for Ozu's estranged relationship with his father - he might never had so much tenderness to convey in his films.
I feel like I know the main characters, Noriko and her father, so well, their relationships, and the culture in which they exist and move. I cannot imagine a deeper potrayal of these characters as that given by Setsuko Hara as Noriko and Chishu Ryu as her father, and the supporting cast is superb. I favor movies in which character and releationship development is more important than plot, and this movie is all about character. The understatment continually present in this film, the gentleness and love of this father and daughter relationship brought out by powerful and remarkable perfomances, and the cultural context within which the characters must act result in Yasujiro Ozu's most perfect film.
The direction by Yasujiro Ozu is revolutionary and without equal, ostensibly spurning all cinematic devices, yet creating what is his and his alone, the simple, the most simple, unobstructed view that allows us to see the characters move in the physical context of each scene; to feel what they feel; and the still shots of the town, views that people who live in this town would see everyday, coupled with the background music grounds the viewer in the time and space of this personal, spiritual, and family drama. Each scene is like a masterpiece unto itself.
Yasujiro Ozu has several masterpieces, and for me, this is his most flawless and touching film.
There is a Zen-like quality to this and Ozu's other great films -- including TOKYO STORY (1953). At salient points in the action, the camera leaves the characters and focuses upon the middle distance, with sad orchestral music welling up. I am told that this technique is an example of "mono no aware," or sympathetic sadness. Ozu does not hammer at the viewer: He knows when to pull back and let the feelings take root and start to spiral up your spine. It is an instinctive talent that few filmmakers have.
Ozu almost NEVER moves his camera, which he sets up on a short tripod about 3 feet high -- just about the height of your head if you were sitting on a tatami mat and interacting with the characters.
I saw a recent documentary about Ozu in which almost everyone who ever worked with this quiet genius broke into tears. The last shot was simply of his funeral monument, with the same sad music welling up.
Ozu was one of a kind. We shall not look upon his like again.