Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary)
Subtle, gentle, delightful and insightful – Kore-eda Hirokazu manages to present the delicate intricacies of family life in which on the surface not much happens, but beneath that, each family member learns something about herself and her sisters, without huge revelations or tantrums.
Kore-eda’s last two films, I Wish and Like Father, Like Son focussed on sons in the families. This time, it is four daughters who take centre stage, and they are older than the previous protagonists, making an interesting contrast.
Kore-eda is often mentioned in the same breath as Ozu Yasujiro and while the family scenario connection is obvious, this is the first time that I’ve been put in mind of a specific Ozu film – in this case Late Spring. I attribute this to the female focus, certain shots of the oldest daughter reminding me of the framing of Ozu’s Noriko, and the coastal setting.
But in any case, this story is absolutely beautiful, and reveals events and feelings from the characters’ pasts – and of people no longer present in their lives – subtly and poignantly.
It examines how death touches our lives, and how the legacy of a person’s life and our memory of them can alter over time and affect our own self-perception.
It’s also the first time I’ve ever noticed that a film mentions its own Food Stylist in the credits. Preparing, cooking and eating food is the centrepiece of family interaction, so if you go to see this film, make sure you have a table booked for the moment you emerge – you’ll be hungry!