Now digitally restored, An Autumn Afternoon, the final film by the great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu is one of his most touching works and, thanks to Yuharu Atsuta’s ravishing camerawork, one of his most beautiful.
Perhaps the most personal of Ozu’s treatments of a theme evidently close to his heart, this finds both elderly widower Shuhei Hirayama (the peerless Chishu Ryu) and his daughter Michiko (Shima Iwashita) entertaining decidedly mixed emotions about the prospect of her getting married and leaving her father to fend for himself. Typically, Ozu and his regular co-writer Kogo Noda deploy deliciously sly comedy in depicting Hirayama’s friends, a sake-quaffing chorus exhorting him to find Michiko a good husband before it’s too late, even as deftly balanced scenes of gentle melancholy highlight the difficulties faced by the pair in what is surely, however it may turn out, a no-win situation. As usual, Ozu’s tone is simultaneously playful and poignant, while everything – from the cherishable performances and the nuanced narrative dynamics to the quietly mischievous but significant positioning of reds within an otherwise muted pastel palette – benefits from his trademark blend of understatement and precision. Utterly exquisite.
From 16 May
National Media Museum, Bradford
Irish Film Institute, Dublin
Glasgow Film Theatre
30 May-5 June
Art House, Crouch End
Showroom Workstation, Sheffield
New Park Chichester
Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen
Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast