|Mariko Okada (Yukiko, Ayako's best friend), Yoko Tsukasa (Ayako, daughter), and Setsuko Hara (Akiko, mother).|
A SFI-FA print with Swedish subtitles by Wakako Hongo Sundfeldt and Per Sundfeldt, screened with e-subtitles in Finnish by Eija Niskanen, Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Yasujiro Ozu), 1 April 2014
Donald Richie remarks that Akibiyori was Yasujiro Ozu's third successive remake. After Ukigusa and Ohayo, he here remade Banshun / Late Spring as Late Autumn. Setsuko Hara plays in both, but here she is the mother who wants her daughter to wed, and is herself left alone in the end.
But Akibiyori is based on a novel by Ton Satomi, and after having seen Ozu's first Satomi adaptation, Higanbana, last week, it was now funny to detect so many big and small similarities between his both Satomi adaptations: same actors, same situations, same milieux, same kinds of running jokes.
Richie comments that there is elegiac sadness in Akibiyori in contrast to the extraordinary objectivity of Banshun. But in Akibiyori there is also a lot of joking and horseplay. There is a balance of comedy and tragedy.
Has anyone remarked that Yasujiro Ozu is probably the cinema's number one creator of matchmaker comedy? And that as such his work can be compared with the tradition of Jewish matchmaker comedy, analyzed, among others, by Sigmund Freud (in for example Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewußten).
In Higanbana, the matchmaker comedy was mostly related to the female innkeeper. Here, the three male friends are the ones who are constantly devising matchmaking schemes.
Increasingly, the women in Ozu's films are embarrassed by being involved in matchmaking plans. Here, both mother and daughter are uncomfortable with the topic. The daughter selects finally the very same young man who had been targeted by the "matchmakers", but first when she can do so at her own initiative, without external interference. She had rejected him for the very reason of being presented in a matchmaking framework.
It starts at a funeral (of the husband of Akiko Miwa, the Setsuko Hara character, the father of Ayako, the Yoko Tsukasa character), and ends with a wedding.
The main running joke here is that "a beautiful woman's husband does not live long". A further running joke is about the young Akiko's youth as a pharmacist's daughter: the three friends were regular customers at the pharmacy, always buying band-aid and aspirin. A third running joke is about Akiko giving the late husband's pipes to the friends. A fourth running joke: "is the itch still that bad?"
There are the usual interior scenes where all the major talking takes place. The theme of travel and excursions is also important. The young people get to know each other during mountain hikes. "Everywhere there are class trips". Mother and daughter make their final trip together, and they discuss things profoundly. "I don't have the energy to start from scratch" (a new relationship), says mom. "Your father was enough. I live in the memory of him". They cannot hold back tears.
A new kind of positive and active comic character is Yukiko Sasaki (Mariko Okada), the sushi cook's daughter, the one who interferes in the three matchmakers' plan and shatters it. Yet she becomes their accomplice, but always in the interest of Ayako, her best friend. She manages to explode the three men's complacency in a good-humoured way.
Somehow the posters of Higanbana and Akibiyori tell a different story than the standard plot summaries of the films: both posters focus on three women as the protagonists. Both films can be seen from different viewpoints. (For me, Higanbana is the patriarch's story.)
A beautiful and complete print.