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Still Walking (2008) January 17, 2010

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
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I’ve seen Tokyo Story twice and I do like it. But the overwhelming feeling it left me with, both times I saw it, is an unbelievable sense of guilt about not spending more time with my parents. In that respect, Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Still Walking is a perfect film to accompany the BFI’s Yasujiro Ozu season.

Kore-eda is one of the most celebrated of modern day Japanese film-makers and, judging by the only Kore-eda film I’ve actually seen (Nobody Knows) clearly adept at the slow-moving slice-of-life style that many associate with Ozu. There are plenty of tips of the hat to that style: lovely long held shots, still shots of a single object, while people run and talk around it — as if you’re lying on a tatami mat in the room, just listening to the comforting sound of the family around you. And in one particularly well-framed wide shot from outside the house you see the whole family, but separated in different rooms, no doubt symbolic of the — albeit thin — barriers that still keep them apart emotionally.

It’s a very relaxing, beautiful film to watch; warm, touching and amusing in many places, but also not afraid to show that every warm, fuzzy family also has its fair share of prickles.

The whole film takes place over the course of a single day, but over that day you see that the obstinate grandfather is not quite as uncaring as he seems, nor is the kindly grandmother as welcoming or unprejudiced as she makes out. Then there are the glimpses of darker secrets, the hurt and insults from the past that still echo and the familiar politics of grown-up family life that make it difficult to just get along. Yet to some extent they do, and many of the traditional family activities — from cooking together to chewing the fat over tea and TV on a lazy afternoon — remind you of why people put themselves through it.

That’s what I found most captivating about the film. Each of the characters are extremely well-rounded. We see their good and bad sides, just what makes them human. The plot has several angles to reveal these and keep things interesting: the significance of the date they are gathering on, the introduction of the son’s new wife (a widower) and son to the family. But none of it feels particularly forced. And what I liked was that, as the grandmother says, “This family isn’t normal”. What she means is the family isn’t boring. Their low-level kookiness is what makes them as normal as any other, which makes me feel infinitely better about my own family visits.

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Comments»

1. moviegeek - January 3, 2011

I’m a big fan of the Criterion Collection DVDs and BluRay.
And I am so happy “Still Walking” is coming out next month
Here’s my review:
http://wp.me/p19wJ2-a5

PS: hope you’ll like my blog


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