Here. The first paragraph of this essay summarizes the film. But you should not be reading this if you haven’t seen it anyway. But because I’m a nice guy, I’ve whited it out, to protect you from yourself. Now, see the film. And read this review.
OHAYO (GOOD MORNING)
Devoted to both the profound necessity and the sublime silliness of gratuitous social interchange, OHAYO is a rather subtler and grander work than might appear at first. Commonly referred to as a remake of Ozu’s silent masterpiece I WAS BORN, BUT…, it is as interesting for its differences as for its similarities. The focus of the earlier film is a family adapting to a new neighborhood by undergoing brutal social initiations the father humiliates himself before his boss to get ahead while the sons are accepted by their peers only after humiliating a local bully Shocked by the behavior of their father. who says that he has to demean himself in order to feed them, the sons retaliate by going on a hunger strike. In the lighter climate of OHAYO, twenty-seven years later, the setting is again middle-class Tokyo suburbia, but the central family is firmly settled, and serious problems-whether old age, unemployment, or ostracism—are principally reserved for their neighbors and friends. The sons’ complaint this time is that their parents won’t purchase a television set and that grown-ups talk too much, the form of their rebellion is refusing to speak.
Significantly, it is the humiliations in the first film which provide much of the comedy, a subject assuming gravity only when It causes a rift between father and sons. But the more pervasive humor of OHAYO extends to the rebellion it- self and all it engenders, as well as the various local intrigues surrounding it Clearly one of Ozu’s most commercially minded movies—with its stately, innocuous muzak of xylophone and strings recalling Tati backgrounds, a similar tendency to keep repeating gags with only slight variations, and a performance of pure ham (quite rare in an Ozu film) by the delightful Masahiko Shimazu as the younger brother-its intricacy becomes apparent only when one realizes that each detail intimately links up with every other. Rhythmically, this is expressed by the alternation of simply stated (if interlocking) miniplots with complex camera setups, less bound by narrative advancement, depicting the physical layout of the neighborhood itself: the perpendicular passageways between houses and the overhead road on the embankment behind brilliantly suggesting certain structures as well as strictures in a society of Interdependent yet insulated busybodies. In a context where banal greetings among neighbors, schoolboy farting contests. and sweet nothings between a couple are treated as structural equivalents, and sliding doors and shot changes become integral facets of the same “architecture”—an interrelating complex of adjacent, autonomous units—the fascination is how even throwaway details become part of the design. A poster for THE DEFIANT ONES, for instance, alludes not only to the recalcitrant sons, but the sense of antagonistic parties chained together by circumstance that often seems to function just below the surface of the everyday pleasantries. A grandmother muttering gripes in between her prayers, a drunken Tomizawa coming home to the wrong house, the young scat-singing couple (at whose home the boys watch television, courting disapproval) being quietly hounded out of the community, a thoughtful Keitaro wondering if television will “produce 100 million idiots’’ or pondering his future retirement: all these moments are characteristically uninflected, and each goes straight to the heart of the film. Mainly designed to look as casual and as inconsequential as its title, GOOD MORNING gleefully embraces a world that I WAS BORN, BUT…can acknowledge only painfully. With a father figure at the center of its constellation—Chishu Ryu, as Keitaro|—who is exempt from ridicule, it neither seeks nor finds any comparable reasons for serious doubts or despair. Yet thanks to the precision and consistency of the vision, Ozu can take up all the other grinning denizens of this discreetly closed world and pin their endearing absurdities neatly into place.
— Jonathan Rosenbaum, Monthly Film Bulletin. no. 502, November 1975