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Japan 1952
Directed by
Yasujiro Ozu
115 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Flavour Of Green Tea Over Rice

Like so many of Yasujirô Ozu’s film of this period, The Flavour Of Green Tea Over Rice is both a domestic drama and a portrait of post-war Japan, its traditional ways rapidly changing under the pressure of Western influences.

The story concerns a well-to-do (it is not clear why they are well-to-do as the husband is a middle management type) middle-aged couple, played by Shin Saburi and Michiyo Kogure, whose arranged marriage is in trouble. She, the more sophisticated but less tolerant of the two, is no longer able to support his, to her, uncouth ways and dully acquiescent personality.  Ozu both looks at marriage per se with its attendant difficulties of co-habitation and arranged marriages specifically, with a sub-plot about the wife’s young niece who is refusing to go down the same marital path as her aunt.

As is typical of Ozu’s very distinctive aesthetic, the pace is slow and the point-of-view observationally detached and unless one has a particular interest in the director’s work at 115m the film requires an almost Zen-like patience to endure with the formal achievements not being sustained by the limited dramatic substance.  Some audiences too will wince at Ozu’s rather over-optimistic rapprochement between the estranged couple, a resolution which folds the wife back into the patriarchal order in willing appreciation of her husband’s humble wisdom. 




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