No two young boys would, of their own volition, sport matching outfits to elementary school, and yet Isomu, aged 13, and Minoru, aged 7, saunter along the hillside surrounding their town, cajoling in cute identical garb. Of course, they face the usual problems any schoolboy does: should they tackle their homework, or just tackle each other? Certainly, given the televised examples set by their favorite pro-wrestler role models, there will be no shortage of moves to mimic. The trouble is, since they don’t have a TV at home, they’ve taken to cutting out on their English homework and sneaking next door to get their fix of fights. When chastised by their parents, the impenetrable argumentation of youth exclaims, “If you don’t want us to go next door, buy us a TV here!” Exclaims. Exclaims. Exclaims. Ex… “You kids won’t ever shut up! Why don’t you just be quiet?!” And so it is that Isamu, aged 13, and Minoru, aged 7, initiate a hilarious vow of silence that uproots their suburban community and punctures our perception of quotidian living.
Watching Yasujirō Ozu's Good Morning is like being on the receiving end of an existential suplex. Which one? If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s one of the inverted facelock variants. It’s a cavorting critique of suburban politesse that’s nestled snugly into the confines of a small Japanese housing block. Battened by the formidable grassy slopes at its perimeter and towering over a resident at about twice her height, the town’s geography begs us question the very convergence of matter beyond her borders. The kids trot lackadaisically at her crests, absurdly mimicking the systematized behavior of their grownup counterparts with a running pull-my-finger bit, that’s at first funny and eventually funny and significant. In Ozu’s frame, bright, crisp and pleasant colors meet fuzzy, plush and comfortable textures at familiar angles. Still there is something unsatisfying… something that drives Isamu and Minoru to flirt with the borders of the known world, breaking societal convention with their silence. The film’s dialogue posits a bottled-up answer to the question of why folks make small talk, but its totality blows the lid off. Good Morning is a rollicking, tender and deeply fascinating slice of dialectic delight.
- Good Morning (Ozu 1959) @ VIZ Cinema