Quite possibly it is with this film that Ozu finds his footing. Low camera angles, across-the-axis cuts, and duration based editing serve this story of honor, shame, and suicide. Whereas Ozu most often focused on parent/child relationships Tokyo no onna (Woman of Tokyo) focuses on sibling relations, but still it calls into question many Japanese traditions and the proper role of males in Japanese culture.
When a young student finds out that his older sister, Chikako, has been moonlighting at a geisha house to help pay for his education he first accuses her of bringing shame to the family. In an act of rare defiance by a female, the sister defends herself and her actions. Confused and angered the brother departs into the night, not to be seen again. Complicating the matters is the intertwined lives of the a young girl her brother – a police inspector. Originally, it the film was intended to have a subplot where the police inspector questions Chikako and accuses her of giving money not only to her brother, but to the communist party. This sub-plot only marginally exists in the film, but the inspectors sister still serves as the connection between the two sets of siblings. Her love for the student adds further weight to the story, but Ozu plays it subtle, making the interconnectedness of everyone’s lives feel more natural than staged for dramatic purposes.
While technically strong film, with all the trademark Ozu camera workings, Woman of Tokyo feels short of greatness. Partially due to its irregular run time of forty-seven minutes, this featurette film plays more like a theatrical exercise with cameras than a proper film, but still it is highly worth the three quarters of an hour that click by rapidly, without a mis-step.