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This leisurely and poignant drama about a family quietly disintegrating in the wake of their daughter's unexpected decision to marry is ranked with Late Spring and Tokyo Story as one of Yasujiro Ozu's three greatest films.
"A masterwork, just a smidgen below the level of Late Spring or Tokyo Story" (Phillip Lopate). A family drama set in Kamakura, the leisurely, poignant Early Summer ends, as so many Ozu films do, in tears — theirs and ours. The Mamiya family takes up the challenge of finding a husband for Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who is a happily unmarried "working girl." Her boss suggests a middle-aged businessman as a suitable prospect, but Noriko impulsively accepts another proposal, and the family begins to disintegrate, ever so quietly, in the wake of her surprising change of heart. Consistently ranked, as Lopate suggests, with Late Spring and Tokyo Story as "the best of Ozu's postwar films" (Audie Bock), Early Summer is perhaps the most freely structured of the three in its elliptical, enigmatic narrative. "A masterpiece" (Jonathan Rosenbaum).