Sunday, 28 February 2010

Still Walking - Filmhouse - 24/2/10

Written and directed by Hirozaku Koreeda "Still Walking" explores similar territory to that found in so many of Ozus films...most obviously in "Tokyo Story" examining the lives of an ordinary Japanese family over the course of one day. In doing so he has brought a film that is as funny and quirky as it is strikingly familiar and tender. Each of the characters reminds you of people in your own life...possibly even of yourself.

The Yokoyama family gather in order to commemorate the death of the eldest son fifteen years ago. Coming together in the home of the parents (the grumpy, curmudgeon and proud father and the more natural, amusing but acidic mother) the children (the son who has married a widow with a young son and the daughter who has arrived with her two children and car salesman husband) find themselves dealing with the difficult nature of their father, the cutting asides of their mother and the presence of their dead brother.

The interactions between them all, usually accompanied by the presence of food, brings each character to life and the performances of all the actors are fabulous. Had this been billed as a fly-on-the-wall documentary you would have remained convinced after watching so convincing are the performances and the story.

Like so many Ozu films the clash between the values of the elderly parents and their Westernised children is a strong element of this film and Koreeda has clearly been influenced by the master director although his film is brisker and lighter than those of Ozu. What also struck me was the closeness of this film to "Departures" in that both deal with death and the impact of it upon those who are left behind. The Japanese sense of tradition and respect runs deep within much of their cinema and it manages to present a compelling case that the West could learn much from them.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely loved this offering from Hirozaku Koreeda.
    The oldest son dies whilst rescuing a young man.
    Every year on the anniversary of his death there is a family get together, to which the man the son saved is invited.
    He brings with him an "offering",and repeats his regret that their son died. It seems the family appreciate his attendance, and it's only when he leaves that they share their true feelings about him.
    I don't know too much about Japanese culture, but it has many attractive qualities, if this film is anything to go by.