Soshun / Early Spring

Soshun / Early Spring (1956)

What everyone else is thinking: 'Booze now friendship later'

Director: Ozu Yasujiro
Writers: Noda Kogo, Ozu Yasujiro
Date: 1956

Genre: Drama
Description: Family drama, Corporate life sucks, marriage is hard, a bitchy mistress, saving your marriage, broken dreams and a boring life, starting over

Cast: Ikebe Ryo, Awashima Chikage, Kishi Keiko, Fujino Takako, Ryu Chishu, Yamamura So, Sugimura Haruko, Miyake Kuniko, Kato Daisuke

Crew of note:

Runtime: 144 mins.
Color: BW

Sugiyama Shoji and Masako, a childless married couple, are stuck in lifeless, dull relationship dictated by Shoji’s salaryman job. He takes his wife for granted, and begins an affair with a woman working in the same building named Chiyo (nicknamed Goldfish). At the same time, his boss asks him to transfer to a remote province in Japan in order to further his career.

Ah, the banality of corporate life. Though this is no salaryman movie, Ozu chooses to say much about this phenomenon by focusing on its effects on married life. Though the plot is nothing new, it is difficult to argue that anyone can create characters as compelling and real as Ozu. Shoji’s stoicism to and detachment from his wife, his work, and even his mistress tells one that he is not just the bored salaryman. Though the lifeless nature of the couple’s relationship seems a little exaggerated, though understandable, it is thanks to the performances, of Awashima especially, that the characters are made memorable.

Ozu puts his camera to good effect, filling frames with character upon nameless character to show the a-dime-a-dozen nature of work (the side of the office building with anons at the start is genius). The pictures also shine with so many noticeable frames within frames, and the very geometric still shots allude to the rigidity and stiffness of corporate life.

Although many will say that the movie is fatalistic and sad, I disagree. This happens to be one of Ozu’s most pleasant, and truly speaks of the strength of marriage. Yes, there is that prevailing sense of being “stuck within the system” (be it political or social), but the characters do end up the better. Yes, this is life, but you can try to make the most of it, and enjoy it, even in minor degrees.

Arguably uneventful for those uninitiated to this kind of cinema, but reserve this for latter viewing, for when you’ve come to enjoy movies described as Ozu-esque. Then, you will love this film.

things to take note of
The many frames within frames
The moments when the camera moves

best moment
Ozu shoots Ms. Awashima in the dark of their living room from his favorite angle

why you should watch this
It’s Ozu, duh. A pretty rare ending for Ozu though, if you’ve seen more of his films. One of his most pleasant and one of his best framed.

rating: 8

Plot: C+
Cast: B
Cinematography: A
Music: B
Entertainment: C+

similar movies, maybe:
Meshi / Repast
Yama no oto / Sound of the Mountain