“Equinox Flower” – Chris Luedtke

Of all the Yasujiro Ozu films I’ve seen so far, I can’t help but commend the man on his ability to remain good at doing the same thing over and over again. What do his films commonly deal with? Family and marriage. Every time it’s the same deal: daughter needs to get married, but something goes awry. Equinox Flower is no exception to the formula that Ozu constantly followed.

If there’s one thing that Ozu always got right in his formula, it was his ability to craft internal affairs. The plot itself hasn’t always proven to be Ozu’s strong point, but his realistic portrayal of family members butting heads has always been his sturdy plank. Equinox Flower is no exception to Ozu’s mastery in this section. The family members clash early on and don’t let up throughout. What has to be appreciated the most in Equinox Flower is that Ozu brings forth the paradoxical human archetype, which helps to step up his game, considering this was one of his later films. The father, Wataru Hirayama (played by Shin Saburi), is the stand-out piece for this and is a real treat to watch.

Ozu also manages to up the ante with his story this time. I was thankful that I didn’t have to suffer another Early Summer set up. Instead, the simple conversations of the characters in the beginning let us know exactly where they stand on issues and ideas that are soon to erupt into mass hurricanes of emotions mere minutes thereafter. It’s subtleness that this film really bathes in; even when Wataru is yelling, one can’t help but notice the importance of the dialogue here. There are no wasted
words; everything said builds towards something.

In the regular familiar sense, Ozu also portrays a minimalist use of music and fancy camera. The big picture is always right there in front of us, but it is up to us to grasp that which lies within it. Only a few times does the camera move to show us direct symbolism, which helps nicely because the focus must remain on the characters at all times or else the story is lost. The almost complete lack of music helps to give a real sense to the whole ordeal at hand.

So far, I would easily call this one of Ozu’s best films. Late Spring was really good, and Early Summer was okay, but Equinox Flower really passes those two up. It’s not without its flaws, though. There are some redundancy issues that don’t really ruin the experience, but they remind us a few too many times about certain elements/ideas that are already clear. Clocking in at almost two hours does push the limit a little bit as well, since the experience isn’t a breathtaking one, but it is nevertheless an indulging one. Those looking for something dramatic with complex human qualities don’t need to look any further; you’ve found your gem for the week.

Rating: ★★★½

-Chris Luedtke

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