Late Autumn (1960)

Late Autumn (Akibiyori)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu from a novel by Ton Satomi
Shochiku Eiga
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Mamiya: You know, it’s people that complicate life. Life itself is surprisingly simple.

In the late autumn of his career, Ozu made this comic twist on his eternal marriage plot.  I smiled throughout.

As the film begins, friends get together after a memorial service for Akiko’s (Setsuko Hara) late husband.  They are three businessmen, one widowed and two married, who were friends of the widow and her husband in college, Akiko and Akiko’s daughter Ayako.  The men all had crushes on Akiko in school and are half in love with her still.  They privately decide to take on the job of finding a mate for Ayako.  Ayako herself is not interested in marriage, mostly because she does not want to leave her mother alone.

The men bumble their way through the whole affair.  One of their most outrageous maneuvers is to convince Ayako that her mother would marry the widower but for her. Somehow, almost despite themselves, everything works out perfectly in the end.

This is kind of a remake of Late Spring with Hara as the parent instead of the child and Chisu Ryu in a cameo as Hara’s brother.  I find the three male matchmakers to be utterly charming and hilarious.  It’s a tender film that examines the generation gap and the inevitable flux of life with a light touch.  Recommended.

Trailer (which fails to capture the tone of the film)

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