Days of Youth

Days of Youth ★★★

"Why don't we act more like gentlemen?" So says walking slapstick goof Yamamoto an hour and fifteen minutes into this after he and classmate Watanabe have spent the whole time to that point engaged in frivolous studies between pining for the same girl. Ozu's earliest surviving feature is, like many of his silents, clearly shaped by his cinephilia, with blatant references to Borzage and others in the form of posters, yet there are hints even this early of the master that Ozu would become. The scene of the lads gazing out their window and the image cutting to a montage of smokestacks billowing outside would seem the first of Ozu's many critiques of rapid development and modernization were these moments not intercut with Watanabe and Yamamoto regarding this industrial outgrowth with unironic glee. Though the film gives itself over to a number of light sight gags (particularly in the overlong second half out on the slopes), a certain melancholy creeps in toward the end when the boys' selfish schemes amount to a waste of time, and all of their procrastination and play leads them to flunk their courses, countering their blithe, unplanned attitude with the harsher realities of life.