OHAYÔ (Yasujiro Ozu, 1959)

Although Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning certainly, if obliquely, refers to it, Good Morning isn’t a remake of Ozu’s silent I Was Born, But . . . (1932) in the way that his Floating Weeds (1959) is a remake of his silent Story of Floating Weeds (1934). In the Ozu œuvre it isn’t much of anything really; it is affable and visually pure, but the comedy never comes together in a meaningful way. Its assortment of characters, across generations, in a modern Japanese suburb never yields the requisite undertow of melancholy attaching itself to the older people, the two men facing retirement and the woman facing the reality of her growing senility. The stubborn desire of two young brothers to have their parents buy them a television set: this should resonate in the context of what the three elder characters are facing; but it doesn’t. One can say this, however: the final, familiar Ozuvian image, of wash flapping dry on an outdoors line, resolves sweetly and with humor a joke running through the film: a boy’s habitual soiling of his underpants and pants. One loves the film, I guess, because it’s by Ozu; but Good Morning is very minor Ozu, and almost entirely superficial. It happily suggests that some problems can be solved, but one notices that neither the boy’s sensitivity and sense of shame over the matter nor the possibility of an underlying medical or psychological cause are ever addressed. Given its method of zigzagging amongst different households, the film lights more often than it lands—and indeed lightness is one of its principal virtues. But one expects more from Ozu.
     The rumors and gossip pertaining to the money “missing” from a woman’s club intriguingly brings this film, however, closer to Hitchcock than I ever expected to find Ozu.

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