Tokyo Story

Tokyo Story ★★★★★

Kyoko Kagawa looking into the camera and saying "Isn't life disappointing?" while Setsuko Hara smiles bravely and replies "Yes, it is." ... might be one of the most poignant remarks in the history of cinema, but the profundity of that scene seems almost childish compared to the moments when Noriko bares the laments of her soul to her father-in-law in the following scene. Many westerners are tempted to view Noriko's words as false modesty, a well-meaning attempt to stay humble when praised by her dead husband's father, but she really does believe every word she says to Shukichi with every ounce of her heart and soul. She has been suffering in such quiet and lonely silence for so long, just dying to unburden herself and tell someone about her selfish lack of grief.

And then just a moment after Noriko dispenses such saintly knowledge and wisdom to her younger sister-in-law, the old man holds serve! What an exchange! Shukichi already knew what Noriko was going to tell him, her deepest darkest secret. Her confession that she wants to leave the family and move on with her life, her look down towards the ground just waiting to be scolded for how shameful of a woman she is, and the old man instead displaying such understanding and preternatural grace, just goes to show how deep Ozu's cinema can really be.

These are people -- a family -- the surviving members of which will in all likelihood never see each other again. The kids are horrible self-interested children (the next time someone wants to equivocate Shige's behavior, go back and watch the match cut from Noriko fanning her parents to Shige fanning herself). The father will sit alone in his room and watch the ships leave the harbor until the day he dies. Noriko looks down at the watch she was given and thinks about time passing by while listening to the roar of the train she's riding, just weeks after the actress playing her character witnessed her real-life brother run over and killed by a train right in front of her eyes.

Life is so ephemeral, and like the ticking clock and combustible locomotion, it is absolutely and devastatingly and with finality, unrelenting.

A masterpiece of world cinema.

Transcendent and life changing film experience.