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Early Summer

Early Summer

Director:Yasujiro Ozu
Cast:Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, Chikage Awashima, Kuniko Miyake
Release Date:1951
Genre:Drama, Foreign

At the Charles Theatre at noon Feb. 4, 7 p.m. Feb. 6, and 9 p.m. Feb. 9

By Bret McCabe | Posted 2/1/2006

Though it’s one of his typical family dramas, 1951’s Early Summer is arguably the best entryway into the world of director Yasujiro Ozu. Young Noriko Mayima (the superb Setsuko Hara) lives with her family in post-WWII Tokyo. At 28, she is no longer a young woman but not exactly old, and her family really wants her to marry. Shot with Ozu’s signature static camera a mere three feet off the floor and eventually lassoing in almost 20 characters and three generations, Summer chronicles the slow, almost imperceptible unraveling of the Mayima family unit—they want to see her married and happy, even suggesting mate choices to Noriko, but if she leaves they’d have to move, unable to afford their current home without her share of the rent. The seasonal implications of the title seeps into the movie’s visual fabric: People sit around fanning themselves, and the plot oozes forward as if swimming through a humid haze. And as with much Ozu, how life plays out is tartly bittersweet at best and crushingly tragic at worst, and Early Summer earns its storytelling stripes by hitting the entire range of that emotional spectrum in the Mayima extended family.

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