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Film / Tokyo Twilight

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Tokyo Twilight is a 1957 film directed by Yasujiro Ozu.

Shukichi (Ozu regular Chishu Ryu) is a bank executive. He is a single father—his wife ran away years ago—with two daughters, elder daughter Takako (another Ozu regular, Setsuko Hara) and younger daughter Akiko. Both daughters have troubled lives. Takako has left her husband Numata, and is living with her father along with her little daughter Michiko. Akiko turns out to be pregnant by her loser boyfriend, Kenji.

While trying to find Kenji, Akiko stumbles across Kisako, a mahjong parlor operator who seems strangely knowledgeable about her family. When Takako hears about this she figures out that Kisako is, in fact, their long-lost mother.

Not to be confused with another, better-known Ozu film, Tokyo Story.


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Tropes:

  • Arranged Marriage: Several Ozu films took a dim view of this practice and this one is no exception. In an early scene Shukichi apologizes for pushing Takako into a marriage with Namata, and says he should have let her marry a different man, the one she liked. A brief twitch of emotion before her face settles back into a mask of pleasantness is the only reaction Takako makes.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's a good deal darker and bleaker than many of Ozu's post-war films, being more unsentimental about the Japanese nuclear family, and likewise dealing with the generation gap, as well as women's sexuality and abortion.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: Glorified Egg Donor, as Kisako starts to insinuate herself in her childrens's lives after 20-odd years away.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Akiko gets an abortion, and nothing bad happens to her—well, to be more accurate, something very bad does happen to her, but the abortion is not the reason why.
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  • I Have No Son!: "You're no child of mine" says Shukichi when he's under the mistaken impression that Akiko has become a bar girl prostitute. (She was actually waiting to meet her boyfriend.)
  • I Have This Friend...: "A friend was in trouble" is the best Akiko can come up with when asked why she needed 5000 yen.
  • Japanese Politeness: Observe Shukichi's calm pleasant smile while he asks Takako about her husband's drinking problem. Indeed, the film can be said to be a Deconstruction of that, since his politeness and passivity led Akiko to distrust him and Takako to be forced into becoming a parental figure.
  • Killed Offscreen: It seems that Akiko has survived getting hit by the train, as she is in bed in a doctor's care, talking about how she wants to change her life. But in the next scene Takako is revealing that Akiko died of her injuries.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: When Akiko finally tracks down Kenji in some dive bar, is the bartender catching up on some light reading? No. Is he doing a crossword? No. He's busily cleaning glasses.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kisako abandoned her family soon after Akiko's birth.
  • Shout-Out: One scene features a poster for East of Eden, typical of more than a few Ozu films (and representative of his love for Hollywood), and like East of Eden, the film is about two siblings coping with the absence of their maternal figure while struggling under a very passive and firm father figure.
  • Signature Shot: Many examples of the shot-reverse shot centered conversations that can be found throughout the Ozu canon, as well as the three-feet-off-the-ground "tatami" shots.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Setsuko Hara plays the part she played in all of the many films she made with Ozu, namely, the faithful, dutiful wife and daughter. Although being a dutiful wife doesn't mean she'll just take her husband's crap, which is why she's separated from Numata at the start of the movie.
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