For Reel

Equinox Flower (1958)
February 9, 2016, 8:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yasujirō Ozu
4 Stars
Equinox FlowerAs all of Yasujirō Ozu’s sound films are, Equinox Flower is an elegiac family drama, remarking on the shifting of generations with an uncommon serenity. Even if the film is comprised of a conflict that sets a father (Shin Saburi) and his daughter (Ineko Arima) at an impasse, characters in Ozu films don’t resort to theatrics to get their point across, instead preferring to have frank discussions about their contrasting point-of-views. If Ozu’s body of work often feels like an inalienable whole, Equinox Flower is distinguished not just by being the filmmaker’s first dalliance with color, but in discussing masculinity in a way that often goes unrecognized in discussions about Ozu. Waturu Hirayama (Saburi) is characterized rather bluntly as a hypocrite–although he has embraced modernity enough to give open-minded advice to his friends, he is tortured by the idea of having his own daughter choose a suitor without him. By framing the discussions from the familiar tatami angle and with characters facing the camera (as if speaking directly to the audience), Ozu withholds judgment by lending equal weight to the plight of each of his key figures. His films don’t argue for a certain social cause as much as they suggest that these types of family conflicts do happen. The inevitable resulting harmony in Equinox Flower’s conclusion doesn’t off-set the messy notions that behaviors are often wildly consistent, and the passing of one generation to the next will be cause for sorrow if one doesn’t have the ability to compromise.

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