Ozu’s is a cinema of cumulative impact. The film’s early scenes delve into the cluster of families around Tomi and Shukishi – busy doctor Koichi; no-nonsense hair-salon owner Shige; sweet widowed daughter-in-law Noriko – observing their variously neglectful or dutiful relations with little or no introduction. Shukishi goes on a sake binge with old pals and they discuss their estrangement from, and disappointment with, their offspring. You could say that learning to deal with disappointment is the philosophical, even religious, heart of ‘Tokyo Story’. And the way Ozu builds up emotional empathy for a sense of disappointment in its various characters is where his mastery lies. [Time Out]
After multiple viewings of this supreme master work the overwhelming emotional power of this film still gets you every time on the big screen. The final release of grief from the daughter-in-law Noriko character played with immense control and power by Setsuko Hara, is one of the great moments in cinema. Her kindness and care for the elderly couple, shaming that of the their real children, although completely genuine, gradually unearths for her a deeper hidden grief that manifest itself as whole new dimension of feeling. It is one of those supposedly intimidating films, whose universality of experience is so great that audiences worldwide nearly always embrace it. The texture of sound is tremendously suggestive of worlds beyond the parochial locales :the older grandson whistling the theme of the western film Stagecoach,anticipating a day trip to the city or the tug boats on the river beyond the couple's home perfectly mimicking a ticking clock. The locales themselves are deftly and beautifully evoked with Ozu's characteristic asperity in those exquisite transition shots of landscapes seared by man's imaginative flights of ambition and neglect.Maybe It is the obvious choice for the best film of this remarkably consistent director whose variations between films seem to be achieved only by a slight playing card shuffle every time, of his themes, actors and titles. Obvious for a good reason.