On the surface a story of family reunion, Still Walking is at heart an exploration of how grief can bind even as it rends. Three generations of a family meet on the 15th anniversary of a son’s death, and it doesn’t take long for long-held grievances to crop up. Yet as the weekend passes, and old secrets are revealed, hope rises that grandchildren might hold the key to ultimate happiness. Japanese master director Hirokazu Kore-Eda won Best Director at the Asian Film Awards for Still Walking.
Still Walking is widely recognized as a masterpiece of contemporary Asian cinema that harkens back to Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times describes Still Walking as “transcendent…completely absorbing, so sure of its own scale and scope that while you’re watching it, the rest of the world fades into irrelevance.”
In praising writer-director Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Roger Ebert writes that “If anyone can be considered an heir of the great Yasujiro Ozu, it might be Hirokazu Kore-Eda, the writer and director of “Still Walking.” In “Maborosi” (1995), “After Life” (1998) and “Nobody Knows” (2004), his first three features released in North America, and now in this film, he has produced profoundly empathetic films about human feelings. He sees intensely and tenderly into his characters. Like Ozu, he pays meticulous attention to composition and camera placement. Acting as his own editor, he doesn’t cut for immediate effect, but for the subtle gathering of power. His actors look as if they could be such people as they portray.”
See Roger Ebert’s full review here: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/still-walking-2009
Jason Buchanan, Rovi:
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda writes and directs this family drama that unfolds over the course of a single summer day as the Yokoyama family gathers for a rare reunion held to commemorate the death of the one who was taken before his time.
It was 15 years ago that eldest Yokoyama son, Junpei, drowned in a tragic accident, and the only changes around the family home since that fateful day are so subtle that they’re not likely to be noticed by anyone outside of the immediate family.
Retired family patriarch Kyohei (Yoshio Harada) used to run a successful medical clinic out of the home, though the lights in his medical examining room haven’t even been turned on in years.
The tiles in the kitchen where energetic Toshiko (Kirin Kiki) cooks family meals are slowly coming loose, and as youngest son Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) arrives home, he does his best to hide the fact that he’s currently unemployed.
His older sister, Chinami (You), has also arrived with her family, and does her best to entertain everyone despite the undeniable cloud of melancholy hanging over the home.
As the festive gathering commences and Toshiko lays out a lavish meal, it gradually becomes obvious that resentment and sorrow bonds this family as powerfully as love.