Tokyo Chorus

"Excellent"

Tokyo Chorus Review


The earliest of three silent comedies directed by Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu and released by The Criterion Collection, 1931's Tokyo Chorus is one of many early Ozu films that clearly telegraph all the thematic concerns he would tackle in dozens of subsequent films while also showing off the very particular techniques that have fascinated students of cinema for decades.

In this simple tale, young and insouciant insurance executive Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) gets himself fired when he berates his boss for badly treating one of his colleagues. In typical Ozu fashion, there's a bit of slapstick in the argument. Watch as the two men poke each other with Japanese fans with steadily increasing force. It's bad news for Shinji because, like America, Japan is feeling the effects of the Great Depression (Shinji even cracks a joke about Herbert Hoover), and jobs are scarce.

Now concerned about money, Shinji goes back on his promise to buy his son Chounan (Hideo Sugawara) a bicycle. When Shinji shows up with a cheap scooter instead, Chounan is outraged and calls his father a big liar, an insult that earns him an enthusiastic spanking. Mom (Emiko Yagumo), who's busy with their two other kids, urges Shinji to make things right by buying the bike he promised his son. Issues of trust between parents and children is a theme that Ozu revisits throughout his career.

In order to keep the cash coming in, Shinji takes on the humiliating task of passing out restaurant fliers around town--much to the embarrassment of his wife--but when their daughter gets sick and the hospital bill comes due, he takes an even more drastic step, selling his wife's treasured kimono collection without telling her. In a brilliant Ozu moment, the family plays a fast round of four-way patty-cake as an amazing range of emotions passes across Shinji's wife's face: anger at what he's done, sadness about what she's lost, relief that her daughter looks happy and healthy, and then joy in realizing that they're all together no matter what.

All throughout, Okada is a delight to watch. He's as expressive as Chaplin and is a great physical comedian. (It's sad to learn he died just three years after making the movie at the very young age of 31.) Ozu doesn't give the Okajima family a traditional happy ending, but he wraps things up warmly with a celebration of loyalty among friends, people helping others even when they don't really have the means to do so, and families sticking together through tough times.

Aka Tokyo no kôrasu.

The rest of the band couldn't make it.



Tokyo Chorus

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st December 1982

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Shochiku

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Tokihiko Okada as Shinji Okajima, Emiko Yagumo as Tsuma Sugako, Hideo Sugawara as Sono Chounan, Hideko Takamine as Sono Choujo, Tatsuo Saitô as Omura Sensei, Chôko Iida as Sensei no tusma, Takeshi Sakamoto as Rou-Shain Yamada, Reikô Tani as Shachou, Kenichi Miyajima as Hisho, Isamu Yamaguchi as Kaisha no Douryou

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.