Hard-working Mokichi (Saburi) and flighty Taeko (Kogure) are a childless couple whose arranged marriage has hit a pot-hole after two decades. Taeko routinely deceives and ridicules her staid husband behind his back, making up an excuse to go off to an overnight spa with her friends. Meanwhile, her niece Setsuko (Tsushima) is being pressured into yet another arranged marriage. Watching her aunt’s behavior makes her want to resist all the more. Will Mokichi and Taeko work out their issues, and will Setsuko keep insisting on true love?
Ozu unfolds this story of a fraying union with his customary subtlety and restraint, exploring the effects of social strictures in post-war Japan, specifically arranged marriages. Restless and frustrated, Taeko acts out against Mokichi, a quiet man of humble origins who likes routine and a simple life. Though he bears the abuse stoically, he also realizes he may be losing his wife. Meanwhile, Setsuko observes, and decides she wants more for her future. 1952’s “Flavor” always took a backseat to Ozu’s more famous follow-up, “Tokyo Story,” but this poignant film stands on its own, particularly with a pristine 4K digital restoration from Criterion. By all means, sip this flavorful “Tea.”