Starring: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Running Time: 136 mins
Tokyo Story is a Japanese film about an elderly couple who travel to the city to see their children and grandchildren, however they discover that the children’s busy modern lives means they have little time for their elders.
This film is very sad. It talks about the fact that an unfortunately inevitable gap that forms between parents and their children, while also noting how modern lifestyles affect family relationships. Coupled with the fact that this film is shown in such a brutally real way, it really adds to the overall melancholy of the story.
In the beginning stages, this works particularly well, as you see the stark contrast between the different parties, the elderly couple’s blood relatives, who see them as quite an inconvenience, and their daughter-in-law, who treats them with real kindness.
While it is delightful to see them being treated kindly, it’s the near contempt they’re shown by their relatives that’s most shocking. The young grandchildren are downright rude, and while the adult children try to appear welcoming, you see them trying to find ways of ‘doing something with them [the parents]’, which is pretty horrible to see as the elderly couple are only trying to speak to and be close with their family.
What’s worst is the way that the sons and daughters refer to their elders. Constantly, they don’t call them by name, only referring to them as ‘them’, while trying to find something for them to do, as if they’re inanimate objects that need to be engaged.
It’s small things like that show how brutally real this film is, and that’s one of the most impressive parts. Unfortunately, I felt that after about an hour or so, the story really died down. There was a lot less conflict and therefore a lot less intrigue for me, and while it did pick up again towards the end, with a hugely emotional and harrowing sequence of events that really put a lot of things into perspective, I felt that, for interest’s sake, this film could have been a bit shorter.
However, this film genuinely had an impact on me, and, seeing as it’s from the elder’s point of view, it shows how damaging passive family relationships can be, especially when they can be so short, and it was that that really made me interested in this film, so I’ll give it a 7.8.