Sunday, 13 February 2011

Passing Fancy (1933) - Yasujirô Ozu


Not the best of the silent Ozu's I've seen, that'd be the previous years I Was Born, But..., still nonetheless Passing Fancy is a cracking film. Ozu seems to have most of the foundations for what would become his signature style already in place. The famous low static camera angle is all present and correct, as is the theme of fractured families. Although unlike the wealthier families of later Ozu, the characters during the silent era all seem to be living either on or just below the breadline.

On paper the story is very simplistic, Kihachi and Jiro are neighbours, workmates and drinking buddies. Both are single, although Kihachi has a son Tomio. Throw a female (Harue) into the mix and you have a love triangle storyline, as well as the more traditional Ozu father/son fare. Stir well and leave to simmer for 100 minutes. You know what to expect if you have been privy to any of Ozu's later films. It all plays out at a nicely composed pace. It's not at all predictable either, which is always a joy when viewing a film for the first time. Kihachi obviously proved to be a creation that Ozu enjoyed since he crops up in three more Ozu films. With so many films from the silent era being lost for ever, it's a constant joy that films like this crop up on DVD so often, normally (at least when one of the better DVD companies are involved) with a picture that is perfectly acceptable. I still have so many Ozu films left to watch, but of the few I've seen so far I'm in for a treat.

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