Sunday, 21 February 2010


When Shintaro, the elderly patriarch of the titular Toda family dies on his 69th birthday, eldest son Shinichiro is left to discover a mountain of debt. After some deliberation, the family decides to pay off the debts by selling off Shintaro’s entire collection of antiques and properties, save for a seaside house. The process forces the family to move out, and each member finds a different arrangement to suit them, except for the mother and youngest daughter Setsuko. Feeling uncomfortable at the house of Shintaro’s wife Kazuko, Mrs. Toda and Setsuko move in with eldest daughter Chizuko, only to encounter similar disagreements. Finding no luck living at any of her children’s houses, Mrs. Toda unhappily moves into the ramshackle house by the sea with Setsuko, and it isn’t until the return of second son Shojiro (who had upped sticks to China after Shintaro’s death) that the family’s strained ties are made clear.

As with every Yasujiro Ozu film, the drama is gentle but abundant, and is sweetly complemented by a sparing score. While she isn’t exactly a lovable character, Mrs. Toda is endearing in her own way, and the tense relationships she has with her children unravel at a realistic pace – we are never forced to believe the issues are irreconcilable, but are able to understand Mrs. Toda’s motives for moving. With all the characters involved, it is sometimes hard to tell who’s who, but Brothers And Sisters Of The Toda Family is otherwise a pleasant minor work from Ozu.

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