Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Hirokazu Koreeda, one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese directors , has proved he has a knack for family dramas. His previous works such as “Nobody Knows”, “Still Walking”, and “Like Father, Like Son” were critically acclaimed, demonstrating his acute sensitivity to depict relationships within the family.
His new film, entitled “Our Little Sister”, was based on the manga series “Umimachi Diary” by Akimi Yoshida, and tells the story of three adult sisters who ‘adopt’ their younger half-sister after the death of their father.
With their mother living in Hokkaido, Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa), and Chika (Kaho), of 29, 22, and 19 years old, respectively, live by themselves in the seaside Japanese city of Kamakura for more than a decade.
Sachi, the eldest of the three, assumes the role of a mother, zealously taking care of her sisters and the house, a responsibility that stole her youth. However, she’s not a bitter person. Sachi works as a nurse in the local hospital and is in love with a married pediatrician who wants to leave for the US and take her with him.
Chika is a happy, relaxed, and attentive person who works at a sports store and has in her co-worker Hamada her best friend.
Yoshino, in turn, is a very sensitive person, having trouble in opening up about her problems. To do so, she drinks a few glasses of booze.
Their parents divorced when they were kids because their father fell in love with another woman and went to live in the countryside. One year after that traumatic occurrence, their cold mother left them and scarcely maintains contact.
When their estranged father dies, the sisters feel kind of indifferent, but decide to go to his funeral. There, they meet with their 14-year-old half-sister, Suzu Asano (Suzu Hirose), who gladly accepts their invitation to live in Kamakura with them.
In a clever and unobtrusive way, Mr. Koreeda, makes us know more about the sisters’ tastes, jobs, loving relationships, deceptions, fears and hopes with an affectionate grace and joyous tenderness.
Despite all the emotional struggles and dilemmas carried by the characters, the story conveys tranquility and generosity while some scenes mirror the pure joys and pleasures life is made of.
Rich in detail and essence, the optimistic “Our Little Sister” follows the combination of amiable tones and social analysis, so characteristic of Ozu and Shimizu. It confirms Mr. Koreeda as the maturest Japanese filmmaker working today.