A small gem of a film from the director of Millennium Mambo and Flowers of Shanghai, Hou Hsiao-hsien's delightful Cafe Lumiere was made as a centenary tribute to one of the giants of cinema, Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu. The film echoes many of Ozu's recurring themes - the breakdown of communication between parents and children, the rhythmic patterning of everyday life.
The film paints a compelling and insightful portrait of contemporary Japan, focusing on the travails of Yoko Inoue (Yo Hitoto), an independent young woman researching a project on Taiwanese composer Jian Wenye. Three months pregnant but with no intention of marrying the child's father, Yoko must deal with both the concerns of her parents and the pressures and contradictions of the pressures of her hectic modern life.
Deftly drawing on the recurring Ozu theme of the relationship between aging parents and their growing, increasingly independent child, Hsiao-hsien reveals so much of the human heart through his quiet, unhurried style and his acute attention to the minutiae of life. Beautifully performed and incorporating one of Wenye's piano scores, Cafe Lumiere is pure cinematic poetry.
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