Passing Fancy is the first of Ozu’s films about the misadventures of Kihachi, and his second film to win the Kinema Junpo first prize. Sakamoto Takeshi’s Kihachi is extremely careless and given to temper tantrums, though occasionally he beams with the goofy glow of Chaplin’s tramp. In Passing Fancy, Kihachi is a brewery worker who lives in a tenement with his son Tomio (Tokkan Kozou, in his best performance), a bright student bullied for his father’s reputation as a “big idiot.” Despite his particular class status, Kihachi is a prototype for many of Ozu’s patriarchal figures, who expect the love and respect of their children without necessarily expressing any love or respect themselves. When Kihachi falls for a woman (Fushimi Nobuko) who does not return his feelings, the consequences of his drunken negligence awaken a dormant sense of paternal responsibility that exceeds the bare minimum he offered in the past. A continuation of the stylistic maturation apparent in Ozu’s three films from 1933, the restrained Passing Fancy uses only deep focus, close-ups of scattered objects and desolate spaces, and slight movements to invoke an overwhelming feeling of isolation.
Live musical accompaniment by Robert Humphreville.