Review of A Mother Should Be Loved (1934)

Moving picture, 73 minutes

Ozu Yasujirō (director).

Seen in 2019.

Seen in its diminished state, missing the first and last reels (about 20 minutes), without any sound.

The significance of biological kinship and crew rowing.

There are two good scenes in this drama. Both involve cleaners. The first is when Kōsaku and Sadao are leaving school to learn more about their father’s illness; a youngish man sweeping the yard comes up to them and accidentally reveals their father is dead, by asking if he was OK that morning and then muttering 「分からないもんだねえ…」 (“Doesn’t make sense, does it”). When this man turns his back on them, the boys run off as in a cartoon. The second scene is when a similarly anonymous middle-aged woman cleaning Sadao’s room at the brothel takes his offered cigarette and momentarily shares the shame of her own life with the young man, setting him back on track. She’s got an ugly and saintly smile: The unintrusive intrusion of an ordinary Ozu-esque person into an otherwise dull story of privileged youth working out some bullshit. Ozu’s touch is also visible in the film-poster mise-en-scene, the composition at depth and the informal Western attire of depressed college students reading on the floor, but he clearly didn’t care about the plot.

moving picture Japanese production fiction