January 11, 2014

Tokyo Family (2013)

Tokyo Family (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Yoji Yamada
Country: Japan

Movie Review: “Tokyo Family” is Yoji Yamada’s homage to unrivaled master Yasujiro Ozu, and a modern adaptation of his 1953 masterpiece, “Tokyo Story”. This way, and recreating the gentle and smooth Ozu’s universe of family (not without some significant differences), Yamada moves away from the samurai scene (“The Twilight Samurai”, “The Hidden Blade”, “Love and Honour”) that gave him some notoriety in the last decade. The story follows an aging couple who travels from Hiroshima to Tokyo to visit their three children and grandchildren. Their arrival, despite being expected with eagerness by all the family, will cause deep changes in the rushed life and daily routines of the adult relatives who will think in other solutions to get the space and time they are used to. The comparison with Ozu’s original is simultaneously unfair and inevitable - some outdoor compositions of streets and trains passing by, were reminiscent of his serene style, while the indoor ones were a mix of steady shots through a low-positioned camera (a staple in Ozu’s filmmaking) and other own compositions depicting modern family's interaction. The weakest aspect here was the sentimental tendencies of its final part, but the richness of the story, in its whole, was enough to be enjoyed, focusing on problems that seem real and never forced, and with an approach that emphasizes affectionate relationships. In a time where remakes are so in vogue, Yamada’s contemporary Tokyo family, at least, remembers us how simple a film can be.

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