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Three bumbling matchmakers attempt to marry off an aging widow (Setsuko Hara) and her devoted daughter in this serenely heartbreaking late masterpiece by Yasujiro Ozu.
Ozu at his most serenely heartbreaking. As the title suggests, Late Autumn is tinged with a sense of the inevitable end of things — especially happiness. A widow (Setsuko Hara, in her penultimate film with Ozu) lives quietly with her devoted daughter, who rebuffs any suggestion that she should get married. Three middle-aged businessmen, old friends of the family, try to act as matchmakers, and decide that the widow must be married first, to "free" the daughter of her familial obligations. "People sometimes complicate the simplest things," said Ozu of Late Autumn. "Life, which seems complex, suddenly reveals itself as very simple-and I wanted to show that in this film." He makes of this situation both a comedy of interference (the well-intentioned schemes of the three businessmen are very funny) and an elegy of transience; humour and sadness intensify each other. "One of my personal favourites. . . . Ozu works his magic for two hours and achieves a pitch at the end whereby the simplest little expression seems momentous and heartbreaking" (Senses of Cinema).