A Late Spring

Comparing this movie to a Jane Austen novel could be pretty fruitful. A Late Spring is about an unmarried woman who is still living with her father, taking care of him instead of seeking a life for herself. A pushy aunt is worried that she will turn into a spinster, so she starts trying to get her niece married off against her will. It has a lot of the same tensions of an Austen novel – society versus the individual, romance versus reality – but because this is from Japan it also has a very different sensibility. The action is a lot less performative – it’s hard to slam doors when all the doors are made out paper – and the serenity at the end feels less like a stab at “happy ever after” and more like “sublimation of self”.

However, while there could be a great essay on that topic, I am not the person to write it. I saw Sense and Sensibility but mostly thought “it’s a bummer that they cast Professor Snape in this but he isn’t doing any magic; a few spells would really liven things up now.” And although I recognize why people respect Ozu, who directed Late Spring, and I could talk about his formal shot compositions, which are distinctive, that doesn’t really move me.

So instead I’m going to take a minute to talk about the cat. For years I only had one computer chair – a wooden chair that I got for $5 at a furniture liquidation store – but when I moved into the room I’m in now, the last occupant had left behind some crap they couldn’t fit in their car, including a tall leather rolling chair. Now I have what I think of the captain’s chair and the copilot’s chair. If I get up the cat will often take over whatever chair I exited. Instead of kicking her out I’ll let her have it, and then I’ll switch to the other chair when I sit down again.

This means, of course, that I am the copilot in this relationship and not the captain. It’s a weird thing to realize. Technically I own her. Realistically I weigh about 30 times what she does. And yet… she wins the battle of wills surprisingly often. I suspect this is a feeling that cat owners often have, because I think cat owners let their cats get away with dumb shit all of the time. As far as these things go, playing musical chairs with two competitors and two chairs doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s what life is like when you’ve decided to do whatever the cat wants. At least she’s got less lofty demands than the aunt from this movie.

Winner: Push

A Late Spring on IMDB