By Lawrence O'Toole
Updated January 13, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

The loss of an only daughter is a needle to the heart, goes an old Irish poem. In Late Spring Japan’s Yasujiro Ozu tells his variation of the story through an aging but selfless father (Chishu Ryu) who forces his devoted daughter (Setsuko Hara) to marry so that she can have a life of her own simple style — an event that unfolds a multitude of family complexities. Set in the midst of Japan’s recovery from the ravages of World War II, Late Spring distinguishes itself from the majority of movies by concentrating almost entirely on character, with every glance becoming a vivid brush stroke. The result is a touching film all about attachment, connection, loneliness, abandonment, and, yes, finally, a needle to the heart. A