Still Walking (U)
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Time Out says
Tue Jan 12 2010The tiny changes in human behaviour that occur when faced with loss is a theme that Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda has consistently explored in his films. 1998’s ‘After Life’ speculated on how people come to terms with the loss of their own lives, 2004’s ‘Nobody Knows’ offered a group of children forced to muddle through adolescence without parents and this extraordinarily tender and consoling new ensemble comedy provides a glimpse into the lives of a lower-middle class Yokohama family on the day they come together to observe the anniversary of a loss in the family.
It’s a summit of coiled emotion, a rare occasion on which parents, children and grandchildren can awkwardly air grievances while happily munching on sushi, eel and tempura. Despite the fact that every shot is loaded with anxieties about death (of family members, of tradition…), the tone remains warm and ironic. The way Koreeda films – mostly discreet shots of the family’s cramped suburban house – makes most directors look blind to the possibilities of locating ideas in mundane imagery, such as a drawer left slightly open, a butterfly entering the house, or cherry blossom blooming in the garden.
His beautiful dialogue, too, favours gentle naturalism over characters breaking down and blurting out feelings, giving it a subtle universality: we see reflections of people we know and love in these characters. Koreeda’s almost sage-like understanding of what makes modern families tick places him and this wonderful film in the league of Japan’s grand master, Ozu, and you can’t ask for higher praise than that.
Author: David Jenkins