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Early Summer is a 1951 film from Japan, directed by Yasujiro Ozu.

Noriko (played by Ozu's regular lead actress, Setsuko Hara) is a 28-year-old woman working as a secretary in Tokyo. She still lives with her whole family, which includes her father Shukiki and her mother Shige, her doctor brother Koichi (another Ozu regular, Chishu Ryu), Koichi's wife Fumiko, and Koichi and Fumiko's young children, Minoru and Isamu.

Noriko being unmarried as she nears her 30th birthday is a concern in the household. Noriko's boss Satake proposes a match with one Mr. Manabe, a bachelor in his early forties. The family eagerly seizes on this idea, but Noriko is reluctant. When Kenkichi, Koichi's partner in practice and an old family friend, pays a visit, Noriko gets an idea of her own.

Compare another Ozu film, Late Spring (1949), which also starred Setsuko Hara as a character named Noriko (but not the same character), and has very similar story elements, with the Noriko character being pressured by her family into an undesired Arranged Marriage.

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Tropes:

  • Arranged Marriage: A theme examined in several Ozu works, often with Setsuko Hara playing a character who is none too thrilled with getting pressured by her parents and family into an arranged marriage.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Noriko's awful bratty nephews are walking advertisements for staying single. In one scene, when Koichi brings home a loaf of bread instead of the model train tracks Minoru wanted, Minoru throws a tantrum and kicks the train tracks across the room.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: A rare female example in Noriko's friend Aya, who doesn't want to be married and mocks her married friends for the hassles and concerns they have to deal with in married life. She isn't that sincere about it, however. Late in the film when Mr. Manabe drops by and Noriko expresses reluctance to take a look at him after she's decided to marry Kenkichi, Aya says "I may marry who's left."
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  • The Ghost: Mr. Manabe is never seen, not even when he pays a visit to the house and Aya makes Noriko take a look.
  • Japanese Politeness: Another theme of Ozu films, in which characters maintain polite smiles while talking about disturbing things. Shukiki has a smile plastered on his face when he says that he's given up hope that their other son, missing in action in World War II, will ever be found.
  • Match Cut: A cut from Noriko and Aya hoisting drinks, after they're stood up by their married friends, to Noriko's parents snacking in the park as they talk about her impending marriage.
  • Not So Different: Noriko obviously does not want to go through with the marriage that her family has arranged for her...but she winds up arranging her own marriage to Kenkichi after asking his mother but not even mentioning the idea to Kenkichi himself. Kenkichi has no idea what his mother is talking about when she offers congratulations. (Notably, he is not seen again after that scene and we never do find out how he feels about the marriage.)
  • Old Maid: The peculiarly Japanese Christmas Cake variation, in which a woman older than 25 is thought to be unmarriagable. Noriko's family is concerned about her status as a 28-year-old unmarried woman.
  • Signature Shot: An example of the technique Ozu used throughout his career of staging conversations as shot-reverse shots where the camera turns 180 degrees and the characters address the camera directly.
  • Slice of Life: A simple domestic drama of a woman considering marriage.
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