Floating Weeds

"Excellent"

Floating Weeds Review


All serious students of film eventually find their way to Yasujiro Ozu, the legendary Japanese director who made many small-scale yet gut-wrenching family dramas over a long career, the best example of which, Tokyo Story, is a five-star filmcritic.com pick.

Ozu's career was so long that in one case, he made the same movie twice. 1959's Floating Weeds is actually a remake of Ozu's own 1934 Story of Floating Weeds, a silent film that's included as part of this Criterion DVD and is well worth renting in tandem with Floating Weeds to see Ozu's evolution over time. Some of the same actors even appear in both films, albeit in different roles.

Floating Weeds begins with the arrival in a small fishing village of a rag-tag traveling theater group led by the affable Komajuro (Ganjiro Nakamura). Along with his girlfriend Sumiko (Machiko Kyo) and his band of long-time colleagues, he puts on cut-rate kabuki shows for extended runs, while his manager goes on ahead to try to find bookings in the next town.

But there's something special about this town, which we learn when Komajuro shops by to visit Oyoshi (Haruko Sugimura), a local bar owner. It turns out she's the mother of Komajuro's son Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), a teenager who has been led to believe that Komajuro is actually an eccentric uncle who comes to visit every few years.

Komajuro doesn't want Kiyoshi to discover his true parentage because he feels he's a no-good vagabond in a disreputable profession. But when the jealous Sumiko finds out her boyfriend has a son, she's so angry she asks Kayo (Ayako Wakao), an actress in the group, to try to seduce Kiyoshi. Kayo succeeds all too easily but then falls truly in love. Komajuro is despondent. The last thing he wants for his son is to hook up with a traveling actress. The boy is supposed to have an honorable future, but how can he tell Kiyoshi what to do without revealing who he really is?

Much has been made of Ozu's directing style, which is deceptively simple. His takes are long, his shots are almost always at a medium distance (no dramatic close-ups), and the camera is always positioned just a few feet off the floor, as if we the viewers were sitting on tatami mats just a few feet across the room. The overall effect is intimacy. There's no drama in the editing; it's all in the conversations, conversations it seems we're overhearing since Ozu has us sitting unobtrusively in the corner taking it all in. That's where the emotional power comes in. We're with these people, and we get to know them. We care about them, and we want a happy ending. When it can't be supplied, we're devastated.

It would be easy to say Floating Weeds is very "Japanese," but it's more than that. Like all of Ozu's work, it's incredibly human, and that can be a rarity in the artificial world of the cinema.

DVD extra: In addition to aforementioned original Story of Floating Weeds, Roger Ebert supplies a fascinating commentary track that clearly conveys his deep admiration for Ozu's complete body of work.

Aka Ukigusa.

And smiling girls.



Floating Weeds

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 24th November 1970

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Daiei Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Komajuro Arashi, as Sumiko, as Kayo, as Oyoshi, as Theatre Owner, Kôji Mitsui as Kichinosuke, as Yatazo, Kumeko Urabe as Shige, Toyo Takahashi as Aiko no haha

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.