The story of an itinerant Kabuki actor whose reunion with his common-law wife and son provokes vengeful jealousy in his mistress.
It's surprising that this 1959 melodrama has been reissued to mark Yasujiro Ozu's centenary, as it's one of his weakest later works. Reworking the silent A Story Of Floating Weeds (1934), it contains such stylistic trademarks as low camera angles and static intra-scene 'pillow shots' to allow the viewer to contemplate recent action before the plot moves on.
The story of an itinerant Kabuki actor (Nakamura) whose reunion with his common-law wife (Sugimura) and son (Kawaguchi) provokes vengeful jealousy in his mistress (Kyo), feels as old-fashioned as the plays that his company performs, despite Ozu's attempts to spice it up with his progressive approach to extramarital sex. But the meticulous pacing, effortlessly sustained seaside atmosphere and sublime photography of Kazuo Miyagawa just about compensate.
It's slow, slightly old fashioned, and one of Ozu's weaker works, but even in one of his lesser works there's still much to marvel at and appreciate.
Reviewed by David Parkinson