Thursday, June 17, 2010

Still Walking (2008)

Kore-eda, director
This highly watchable, somewhat sentimental drama scans human relationships within a family. A retired and senile doctor lives in a seaside town with his wife. They are being visited by their family for an annual reunion to mark the death by drowning of  their eldest son twelve years ago while trying to save a teenager. The second son who is visiting now is married to a widow with a son. Also visiting is the daughter and her husband and their two children.

The aging physician is lamenting the lost son, in whom he seems to have placed his hopes. He does not think much of his younger visiting son Ryo or for his profession of art preservation. This becomes obvious in many unfavorable comparisons and oblique remarks. The daughter and her family have plans to move into the parental house, which the elderly parents do not want. Ryo's wife and her son are given formal treatment, though she never loses composure at any point. Also visiting is the young man whose life the elder son saved from drowning, who seems to be invited for the specific purpose of making him guilty and uncomfortable.   The tapestry of relationships, points of view and interests is presented in dazzling relief and with effortless delicacy.

No less delightful is the opportunity to wander in the interiors of a modern Japanese dwelling and to experience their way of life. It is an authentic portrait of a society, though that could hardly have been it's intention. It is a culture where attention to minute details comes naturally. The manicured if somewhat crowded neighborhood, the lanes and gardens, and the exquisite graveyard with glistening rectangular granite tombstones surrounded by flowers-white or black or mottled- all unhurriedly surveyed by the camera, make this film well worth watching. The slow quiet rhythm of the film as it unfolds itself, almost like a still-life, is sure to cast a spell and leave it's imprint.
Manohla Dargis


Anonymous said...

What?! I'm the first one to leave a comment? And with such a gorgeous last paragraph, too. Not that you need wonderful descriptive language to convince me to see this movie, but that last paragraph adds something special to the review.

Also, I'm guessing you liked this Kore-eda film more than Air Doll. ;-)

S M Rana said...

Certainly a wholesome movie of a film.

Eugene Kwon said...

Swaying trees, the purifying sound of the beach, the heartrending sight of the butterfly. I've watched the film last summer and eager to watch it again soon.