Floating Weeds is a 1959 film directed by Yasujiro Ozu.
A third-rate kabuki acting troupe arrives via ferry at a seaside town in Japan. The troupe is not doing very well, being reduced to playing dinky villages, and its future is in question. Among its members are Komajuro, an older man who is the owner of the troupe and plays the male lead roles; Sumiko (Machiko Kyo), the lead actress and also Komajuro's lover, and Kayo, the younger actress in the troupe. Komajuro has a special reason for visiting this particular town. Living there is Oyoshi, an old girlfriend of Komajuro's, who has a son, Kiyoshi—also Komajuro's son, from their long-ago fling.
Komajuro has not been back to the town to see his son for 12 years; Kiyoshi in the interim has grown from a small boy to a young man with a job at the post office. Oyoshi and Komajuro have kept their secret, with Kiyoshi believing his father long dead and the eccentric actor who's just shown up in town to be his uncle. Komajuro's extended absences while spending time with his old girlfriend and son are noticed by Sumiko. When Sumiko finds out Komajuro's secret, she is filled with jealousy, and she makes an ill-considered decision.
This film is a remake of Ozu's 1934 film A Story of Floating Weeds.
- Bad "Bad Acting": All of the actors, most notably Machiko Kyo as Sumiko hamming it up relentlessly onstage.
- Becoming the Mask: Sumiko bribes Kayo to seduce Kiyoshi in an effort to get back at Komajuro. Kayo falls in love with Kiyoshi for real.
- Betty and Veronica: Komajuro has Oyoshi, who is demure and feminine in a Yamato Nadeshiko kind of way, and Sumiko, a chain-smoking actress who is much more assertive.
- Blowing Smoke Rings: One of the actors idly does this as he and his buddies commiserate about how the troupe looks likely to fold.
- The Cameo: Chishu Ryu, who appeared in almost every movie Ozu made, has a small part as the owner of the theater.
- Celebrity Paradox: One of the actors screws with a villager by claiming to be Toshiro Mifune, which raises the question of why Sumiko looks so much like Mifune's co-star in Rashomon. Additionally, that actor is played by Koji Mitsui, who starred with Mifune in The Lower Depths, The Hidden Fortress, The Bad Sleep Well, Red Beard and many others.
- Color Motif: Lots of red—red curtains, red flowers, Sumiko's red umbrella, the red-painted bottom of a ship when Kiyoshi and Kayo are having a meating at the beach, even the same red teapot seen in Equinox Flower.
- Cross-Cast Role: In-Universe, Sumiko plays a man—legendary bandit Chuji Kunisada—in one of the troupe's shows.
- Empathic Environment: Most of the movie takes place during a Heat Wave, but the scene where Sumiko marches into Oyoshi's house and confronts her and Komajuro takes place during a pouring rainstorm. Immediately afterwards Sumiko and Komajuro vent their anger at each other from opposite sides of the street as a monsoon pours between them.
- Erotic Eating: The two village hookers ostentatiously lick away at popsicles.
- The Fellowship Has Ended: The troupe has one last melancholy evening together after it's become clear that there are no more bookings and they'll have to split up.
- Give Him a Normal Life: The excuse given for keeping Kiyoshi in the dark, namely, that having an itinerant actor for a father would be too embarrassing.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: Despite not only not telling Kiyoshi the truth, but not even visiting for twelve years, Komajuro tries to get bossy and controlling when he finds out his son is dating an actress. It doesn't go well.
- Heat Wave: Throughout, characters talk about how hot it is, and are shown lying around listlessly or fanning themselves in the heat. Likely meant to symbolize the passions and secrets that are hidden inside an outwardly sleepy village.
- I Have No Son!: I Have No Father. Oyoshi reveals the truth at the worst possible moment, after Komajuro has struck Kayo and Kiyoshi has knocked him to the ground. An enraged Kiyoshi says he's never had a father and as far as he's concerned he still doesn't.
- Large Ham: In-Universe with all the actors in the troupe, as seen in the performances onstage. Kiyoshi calls out the man he thinks is his uncle about that, saying "You really mugged it up." Komajuro gets defensive, saying his performance is "old-fashioned."
- Mama Bear: A subplot has Kiyosha, one of the older actors, take great interest in Aiko, the barber's very good-looking daughter. This culminates in Kiyosha trying to kiss her, which leads to Aiko running off, which leads to her large and intimidating mother coming out with a straight razor and insisting on giving Kiyosha a shave. Later he's shown sheepishly admitting to his buddies that he got a cut on his face at the barbershop.
- Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Replicating a shot from the 1934 film. The last shot shows Komajuro and Sumiko's train chugging off into the distance, as they go off to Kuwana in hopes of finding more acting work.
- Remake Cameo: Kichi, the older actor who steals some of Komajuro's money and disappears, is played by Koji Mitsui. Mitsui played the Kiyoshi character (the son of the theater troupe leader) in A Story of Floating Weeds.
- Show Within a Show: We see a few scenes in which the troupe plays Kabuki theater.
- Signature Shot: The shot-reverse shot staging of conversations that Ozu used his whole career, in which characters having a conversation are framed in turn at the center of the shot, looking straight at the camera.
- Staggered Zoom: The film opens with a closeup of a lighthouse, then a staggered zoom out showing the beach of the town behind the lighthouse.
- Visual Pun: The first shot of the movie shows a lighthouse in the middle distance, while a sake bottle stands up in the foreground off to the right.
- Would Hit a Girl: Komajuro does not react at all well to finding out that Kayo is dating his son. He smacks her around some, and when Kayo reveals that Sumiko put her up to it, he confronts Sumiko and smacks her around as well.