Title: Late Spring
Release Date: September 19, 1949
Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Production Company: Shochiku
Following on Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds, watching this movie is making me a Yasujirō Ozu fan. Conceptually it’s linked to Tokyo Story as part of a trilogy of films staring Setsuko Hara as a young woman named Noriko, although otherwise the characters and the film are related. Two other actors who later appear in Tokyo Story are also stars in this film, Chishū Ryū who plays Noriko’s father Shukichi Somiya and Haruko Sugimura who plays her Aunt Masa.
Noriko is a single 27-year-old woman who has found contentment in supporting her aging father who is still working as a professor. But Masa has determined that it is time for Noriko to marry, and ensnares Shukichi in helping her convince Noriko. It’s a deceptively simple movie and one where the unspoken thoughts and desires are just underneath the surface of the smiling faces.
The movie was filmed just after World War II under the American occupation and the war and postwar are also underlying factors, from mention of Noriko’s ill health due to overwork during the war to English language signs and a Coca-Cola advertisement on the roadside. The movie’s script was actually heavily censored by the Occupation authorities, but nevertheless a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a father and daughter shines thorugh.