Sally Jane Black’s review published on Letterboxd:
The laughter of the old men as they discuss how much fun they had arranging (ineptly) a marriage rings coldly as they sit, all camaraderie, without any awareness of the hurt they've caused. As a portrait of the cracks in traditional structures, this film is a fitting mirror image to Late Spring. The film captures the masculine presumptiveness that drives the men to get involved in relationships they don't need to be involved with, and the feminine frustrations of a life without a man in a patriarchal society. While I think Ozu's compassion is evident, I believe his focus is broader than merely the divide between men and women; he is exploring tradition (as always) and its complex affect on (then) modern society.
He's a bit direct in it, referencing the generation gap by putting in lines about Elvis and how things are different for the younger crowd over and over. The old men comment on it as much as anyone, especially in their interaction with Yuriko, who is bolder yet somehow an agent of defeating Ayako's agency. The contrast between Akiko's passivity and Ayako's also convey this idea, as Akiko is more accepting while Ayako is quietly frustrated, despite her bright smiles.
And that's truly the most heartbreaking part. Not that anyone will be alone or that they aren't maybe with someone they love, but that their choices get taken away from them, over and over, until they simply relent. In the face of inexorable tradition, they are nearly powerless.
December count: 87/100.