Magazine article Screen International

Tokyo Family

Magazine article Screen International

Tokyo Family

Article excerpt

Dir: Yoji Yamada. Japan. 2012. 146minsWhether a remake, a tribute or an update of Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story - admittedly one of the greatest cinema achievements ever - Yoji Yamada's new variation of that masterpiece is bound to disturb any self-respecting cinephile. Arriving 60 years after the premiere of the original and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ozu's death,

In Tokyo Family (Tokyo Kazoku), some of the performances verge on caricatures.Ozu's visual precision and inimitable selection of shots, his masterful restraint, the profound wisdom behind his quiet acceptance of life for what it is and the sad disappointment with the shortcomings of human nature, doesn't survive in Yamada's take of the story and it is difficult not to wonder why Shochiku, which brought out the original in 1953, could think that it needed to be spruced up today.The story is basically the same, though, since the action takes place now in the 21st century, some changes were inevitable. For instance, no son is lost in the WW2 and therefore, the angelic daughter-in-law is replaced by the future wife of the youngest son. But that is not the main point. As a matter of fact, there are rumors that Leo McCarey's depression drama Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) inspired Ozu, and that film was an adaptation of a play based on a novel. But while the novel, the play and the American film are long forgotten, Ozu's film has not only survived and continues to be acclaimed.An old retired couple, Shukichi Hirayama (Isao Hashizume) and his wife, Tomiko (Kazuko Yoshyuki,) come from their island near Hiroshima, to visit their children in Tokyo. The oldest son, Koichi (Masahiko Nishimura) is a doctor, his sister Shigeko (Tomoko Nakajima) runs a beauty parlor and the youngest, Shoji (Satoshi Tsumabuki), is a stagehand working in the theatre. None of them has any time to spare for the parents, and try, with various degrees of courtesy, to get rid of the unwanted burden. …

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