Family, food, love, work, life and death are all on the menu in 'Our Little Sister'. This irresistible, light-filled family drama from Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda ('I Wish', 'Still Walking') brims with small moments and slips down as easily as the many meals it shares with us.
Kore-eda gives us three sisters, Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chika (Kaho), all in their twenties, who meet their teenage half-sister, Suzu (Suzu Hirose), for the first time at their estranged father's funeral far away in the countryside. Immediately getting on well with this balanced, smart young woman, they invite Suzu to share with them the old family home in Kamakura that their father abandoned 15 years earlier and where the three still live, eating, drinking and talking together like friends as much as siblings. Their close rapport and reliance on each other – and the dignity with which they welcome their new sister, despite her presence unearthing old resentments – is deeply infectious.
Absence is a theme: the mother of the three older sisters, like their father, has been away for some years, too, and part of the power of Kore-eda's film rests on how he subtly tracks each of these four women's different perspectives on their parents. Those perspectives, in turn, continue to influence their attitudes to each other, their work and their relationships with men. Although men firmly take a back seat in 'Our Little Sister': this is a sisterly drama through and through.
An intimate, warm embrace of a film, it radiates joy and harmony despite playing out entirely in the shadow of a difficult father's death. Out of darkness, Kore-eda discovers light, and there's a meandering, extremely personable charm to this film that means that even its more soppy moments – such as when two characters cycle through an avenue of cherry blossom – feel well-earned and entirely fitting. Deeply charming and quietly moving.