Director Yasujirô Ozu has created some of the most gentle and poignant stories I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing within the cinema, such as the universal themes of family, growing old and the acceptance of change; and Tokyo Story is the greatest film to express such themes. Tokyo Story tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children, but during their visit their children make very little time for them. Most of Ozu's films are primarily focused on domestic family life, with many of its stories usually revolving around weddings and fathers trying to wed off their daughters, because in the Japanese culture it was inappropriate for a daughter to be a certain age and still not be moved out and married. And yet, for years Ozu remained unknown abroad, chiefly because decision-makers considered him 'too Japanese' to be exported.
Like all of Ozu's films, Tokyo Story's pacing is slow or as critic David Bordwell prefers to describe it as "calm," and his narrative strategies are fascinating because important events are often not shown on-screen, only slightly revealed later through dialogue. For example, in Tokyo Story, Ozu does not depict the mother and father's journey to Tokyo at all. Throughout the years children grow up, move out, and eventually move on with their own separate lives, and Ozu greatly understood this. Tokyo Story was originally inspired by the classic American film, Make Way for Tomorrow, directed by Leo Mccarey, which was a story that must have greatly touched Ozu, that he became inspired to make his own Japanese version of that story. And yet what makes Tokyo Story even more poignant is the idea that a person that isn't blood-related could become much more loyal and loving towards you than members from your own family.