I Was Born, But . . . | Chicago Reader

I Was Born, But . . .

One of Yasujiro Ozu's most sublime films, this late Japanese silent (1932) describes the tragicomic disillusionment of two middle-class boys who see their father demean himself by groveling in front of his employer; it starts off as a hilarious comedy and gradually becomes darker. Ozu's understanding of his characters and their social milieu is so profound and his visual style—which was much less austere and more obviously expressive during his silent period—so compelling that the film carries one along more dynamically than many of the director's sound classics (including his semiremake 27 years later, the more purely comic Ohayo, which has plenty of beauties of its own). Though regarded in Japan mainly as a conservative director, Ozu was a trenchant social critic throughout his career, and the devastating understanding of social context that he shows here is full of radical implications. With Hideo Sugawara, Tatsu Saito, and Chishu Ryu. 91 min.

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