Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Only Son. B
The Only Son, Ozu's first sound film, really needs to be seen alongside his There Was a Father, which was made a few years later. Criterion even released these two as a pair, and at about 85 minutes a piece, they're quite accessible and easy to consume. There Was a Father is the deeper of the two, but The Only Son still touches on important issues of parental sacrifice, disappointment, and the pressure of a child to live up to lofty expectations. At times it feels like these two films are one and the same. Ozu's visual scheme is identical in both, and because the stories have so much in common one could easily confuse them. The Only Son is far from great, I think mainly because once the truly compelling material enters the story, there's only about thirty minutes left in the picture. But, with that time Ozu works wonders, displaying an economy of narrative development that few storytellers possess. Here's a film that could easily be two hours, and yet Ozu pretty much says everything that needs to be said in 83 minutes. Does the material deserve two hours? For sure, but the fact that Ozu pulled it off in far less is one of the signs of his genius.