Though Late Spring comes off as familiar to my initial entry film into Ozu’s filmography, which ironically is also his last, the tale of marriage and a woman’s hesitation would certainly seem mundane to be experienced the second time round, but Ozu has avoided complete repetition with enough variance from his characters, further refining the characterisation of his archetypes allowing characters to be distinct despite the familiarity.
An Autumn Afternoon certainly have similar themes with Late Spring since their stories are fairly similar, but primary ideas are found in separate areas and characters responding to their situations uniquely, with Late Spring being the far more emotional and dramatic of the two. An Autumn Afternoon honed in the core of abandonment and guilt, the idea of a daughter leaving her widowed father as she takes on the independent journey of marriage, no longer dependant to the needs of her parent, a new life that would finally open up the opportunities and joys that she has long been deprived for; Late Spring instead finds its focus on the aspect of dependency itself, a child who chooses to make herself feel relevant in the eyes of her father as she passionately attends to his activities of daily living, with a underlying drive rooted by fear of separation and independency, a young woman who cherishes her comforting position, creating a defence mechanisms of smiles and subtle conversational transitions to protect her from undesirable topics when prompted by those concerned for her.
The film’s complexity comes from the deep affection she has for his father, a dependency to the point that finds herself in a state of great melancholy and internal rage that the possibility of his father remarrying would take him away from her, despite the film’s third act showing her intentions to be more for his sake, worrying that loneliness may turn his life for the hollow, but her concern seems to be more towards her own losses and position, tearing up at the idea of no longer being critical to the most important person in her life.
Late Spring carries that familiar stamp by the filmmaker, capturing a sense of domestication that many films don’t seem to capture, especially in the sense of traditionalism, which Ozu in his later films have tended to juxtapose with the evolution occurring in the younger generations, slowly peeling down the layers of their past, but such an attribute from the director doesn’t come in full swing as here in Late Spring, our protagonist, despite being born into a world now comfortable in the position of a divorcee and as an independent female worker, still carries partly carries her tradition with pride, one sincere depiction of youth at the time, requiring the audience of today to transport themselves to the mindset of the past, to accept the dated ideals that drive its characters, as I am sure such concepts like forced marriage could be easily seen as antagonistic when the pressers themselves cause sadness to their victim, despite their good intentions.
Ozu has once again provided the world with another strong entry, one that may feel familiar due to my personal journey into his filmography, a fault that is mine to bear rather than the filmmaker’s, and tackling on common domestic ideas with a profound effect that allows them to feel substantial and dramatically gripping. I am eager to see more of what his filmography could provide.