This view of contemporary middle class life in Japan is too leisurely paced, too sentimental in design and its humorous social comments too infrequent.
Screenplay tells the story of a bourgeois widower’s adjustment to coming old age, the departure of his children into marriage, and the changes in a society which has apparently been very good to him. It’s a gentle, nostalgic view of life which director Yasujiro Ozu draws, with some intrusively stark, abrupt camera techniques which are almost always inappropriate.
Director intercuts between characters in a single scene, and between scenes, with the same tempo, totally eschewing anything that resembles a dissolve or slow fade. This might be effective depicting tension or violence but interrupts the flow of Autumn Afternoon. Also intrusive are a schmaltzy musical score and the vivid Agfacolor.
The picture is nicely acted throughout, and does have its comic and affecting moments. There is one extremely funny scene in which the widower, who had been a captain of a destroyer during the war, meets an old shipmate who speculates on what might have happened if Japan had won the war: ‘We’d be sitting in New York right now, listening to the real thing (jazz). They’d all be wearing wigs and playing hot tunes on the samisen.’