Early Summer

Yasujiro Ozu, 1951 (124m)

Early Summer

There’s No Place Like Home plays on the soundtrack of Ozu’s unhurried, sly depiction of seismic familial shifts. Noriko lives contentedly in a multigenerational home that houses her elderly parents and her brother's family. The clan are keen for Noriko (the great Hara Setsuko, who died last September, aged 95) to be married off. But her final decision on the matter is both impulsive and discombobulating. This serene, slyly complex film is often overlooked within the ‘Noriko Trilogy’. Its themes – generational conflict and the emergence of a new, independent Japanese woman – are favourite preoccupations for Ozu. The seamless shifts in tone between humour and melancholy – another directorial specialty – are seldom as delicate as they are here. The visuals are equally balanced: his only known crane shot offers beautiful geometry. “Hara Setsuko is a fine person; if only there were four or five more such persons,” said Ozu of his leading lady, who also starred in Late Spring (1949) and Tokyo Story (1953). Her performance in Early Summer offers a masterclass in small,

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