DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A MOTHER SHOULD BE LOVED (HAHA WO KOWAZUYA) (director: Yasujiro Ozu; screenwriters: Kgo Noda/Tadao Ikeda/based on an idea by Yasujiro Ozu; cinematographer: Isamu Aoki; cast: Iwata Yukichi (Mr. Kajiwara) , Den Ohikata (Sadao), Seiichi Kato (Sadao as child), (Maki), Mitsuko Yoshikawa (Chieko), Chish Ry (Hattori), Hideo Mitsui (Kosaku), Shusei Nomura  (Kosaku as child), Shinyo Nara (Okazaki ), Kyko Mitsukawa (Kazuko), Yumeko Aizome (Mitsuko), Choko Lida (Maid), Junko Matsui (Ranko); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: ; BFI-PAL format; 1934-silent-Japan-in Japanese)

"The first and last of nine reels is missing in this early silent family melodrama directed by the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first and last of nine reels is missing in this early silent family melodrama directed by the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu ("Late Autumn"/"The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice"/"Equinox Flower"). It's based on an idea by Ozu and is written by Kgo Noda and Tadao Ikeda.

In the missing opening reel, during breakfast the patriarch (Iwata Yukichi) of the Kajiwara family plans to take his older son Sadao (Seiichi Kato) and younger son Kosaku (Shusei Nomura) to the beach after school, but while the kids are in school the father suddenly dies after collapsing in his business office.

Eight years later Sadao (Den Ohikata) learns while registering for college that he is the son of his father's first wife. He's angered that his stepmom Chieko (Mitsuko Yoshikawa) kept it a secret, but relents when he learns from his uncle (Shinyo Nara) she did so to raise him with the same love reserved for her real biological son. As they grow older, Kosaku (Hideo Mitsui) begins to resent his brother because he's favored by mom.

An agitated Sadao dwells in a Yokohama brothel with the prostitute Mitsuko (Yumeko Aizome), but after a quarrel returns home. There he provokes a fight with mom in order to improve the relationship of his brother with his mom. Chieko understands why Sadao picked a fight and finally tells Kosaku about his brother's secret. This leaves Kosaku with guilt-feelings about resenting his brother.

When mom goes to the brothel to bring back Sadao, he refuses her pleas to return home. The brothel maid (Choko Lida) lectures him on his rudeness and tells him 'a mother should be loved.' That registers with Sadao, who returns home and the family is reconciled. The missing last reel explains through intertitles the family has moved to a more modest suburban home because their income has declined.

The continuity of the film is damaged by the missing reels, making it difficult to judge its true value. In any case, this is a minor film in Ozu's opus. It's one that I found unappealing by striving so hard to be appealing, nevertheless it's still worth watching for the way the family is pointedly observed in very human and comical ways.

REVIEWED ON 10/7/2013       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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