a young man with a military cap leans on the counter of a bar looking at another man in military garb looking down while a woman stands behind the bar, between themalr

Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?
(Seishun no yume ima izuko)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Egawa Ureo, Takeda Haruo, Tanaka Kinuyo.
Japan, 1932, 35mm, black & white, silent, 86 min.
Japanese intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

Where Now are the Dreams of Youth? is an intriguing step forward for Ozu, whose student comedies typically depict the transition from school into the workplace as a shared experience. This time, Ozu introduces class conflict into his well-trodden terrain of friendship. College graduate Horino (Egawa Ureo) inherits his late father’s company, a privilege he exploits to hire his three unemployed friends. The transparency that once characterized their relationship is replaced by an uneven, tense dynamic as Horino crosses boundaries, as when he decides to propose to his friend’s fiancée Oshige (Tanaka Kinuyo). The manner in which Ozu evenly measures both perspectives—the new hires terrified of professional consequences; the boss who demands they treat him like an old friend—is disconcertingly blithe. Ironically, Ozu’s light touch compounds the power imbalance at hand and renders all gestures of reconciliation coercive and superficial. It is possible that Ozu was aware of the film’s disquieting undertones: when a similar romantic rivalry between college friends is referenced in Late Autumn, Ozu omits mention of any socioeconomic differences, allowing the memory to remain a pleasant one.

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Ozu 120: The Complete Ozu Yasujiro