Late Spring


The great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu made more than 50 films between the silent era and his death in 1963, but so few have been reissued on American DVD that every new release is cause for celebration—even if the movie isn’t quite a masterpiece. This 1949 film tells the story of an aging widower who feels compelled to marry off his only daughter, even though the separation brings immense sadness to them both. Late Spring isn’t Ozu’s best—it’s not quite as immaculately graceful as Tokyo Story, doesn’t pack the emotional wallop of Floating Weeds and likely will drive anyone not in tune with Ozu’s textural purity and stylistic austerity totally bonkers. But it’s still a powerfully moving film, in which the personal story and the cultural details are inevitably intertwined.