Early Spring

Early Spring ★★★★★

Essentially the last of Ozu's marriage-related films (as in films about couples), Early Spring is among the finest I have seen in this sub-genre. Few films have better articulated the minutiae of a slowly eroding marriage, and even fewer have been expansive enough to simultaneously include the realities of the world beyond it—in this case the mundane nature of workplace life—in order to depict its reciprocal effects. At times the film plays like a a more exhaustive version of Naruse's remarkable 1951 effort Repast, not to mention his other similarly-themed films of the early-Fifties. Ozu goes even further by contrasting a salaryman's life with that of those who are self-employed, but without offering a solution because there is none. Though fairly somber in tone, the film is not devoid of humor: during a forbidden kiss Ozu cuts to a moving floor fan whose head appears to be saying "no." The shots of trains typically serve as an extended counterpoint, underlining the becalmed flow of time and all it entails. The longest of Ozu's surviving films, Early Spring deserves to be ranked among his greatest.

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