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  • Still Walking is an intimate movie about a family reunion. Its observations about family dynamics are the most true to life I have ever seen. The movie paints the entire gamut of emotional family experience with delicate yet powerful brush strokes but it's not a sentimental film, nor an opportunity for actors to grandstand. It's Japanese, so all the strong undercurrents of emotion are held in check by equally powerful restraint (both cultural and directorial). A brother and a sister attempting families of their own go to visit their parents in Yokohama. The parents have lost a son and the family's devastation hangs heavy in the air. You can actually feel it bearing down on your shoulders from the first frame. Anybody who has ever spent the night at the house of relatives will feel the weight of family history that this film captures so truthfully.

    The parents are engulfed by their quiet, ongoing grief and the surviving children resent all the attention given to the one who is not there anymore. The movie is surprisingly mordant, touching, cruel, sad, funny: human. The mother is this wonderful woman who cooks up a storm (I so wanted to be invited to that house). She is from an older generation, which means she has been forever in the shadow of her husband the doctor, cooking and cleaning and feeding the children, but she is not a pushover, nor a saint. She is mischievous, catty and petty, prejudiced, funny, generous and cruel at the same time. She is a marvel, and the actress who plays her is astonishing.

    This movie has many emotional surprises that make the audience gasp, but they are presented with a sure, light touch, never falling into easy sentiment, never shying away from human complexity. It's a film about family, and love and duty and regret and it is stunningly beautiful.
  • Few other nations can capture the beauty of family drama with such subtlety and grace as the Japanese can. Perhaps it is a blessed legacy left behind by the master Yasujiro Ozu who in his lifetime made over 50 films, all of which are family dramas that often dealt with generational gaps. Japan, more than any other nation struggles with the problem of generational gap, being a nation that has continued to endure conflict between the young and the old, the traditional and the modern. Stepping into Ozu's shoes is the acclaimed director Koreeda Hirokazu, whose films "Nobody Knows" and "After Life" has already garnered universal praises.

    "Still Walking" begins as a family reunites to commemorate the death of one of its members. With new members joining the family and old wounds resurfacing, everyone tries their best to pass the two day gathering with as little problem as possible. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, therein lies the plain and subtle beauty of the film. From a few words exchanged between the grandfather and his new grandson to the laughter of three children as they caress a blossoming flower, these simple moments will linger in your mind with tasteful resonance long after the film.

    While watching the movie, I found it hard not to be immersed by the beauty of Japanese suburbia. I could picture myself - like the characters, taking a stroll on a simmering summer day with the cool breeze in my hair as the gentle picking of guitar strings play in the background. Or perhaps eating lunch and drinking cold ice tea on tatami mats as the wind-charm tickles with the slightest vibration. "Still Walking" is a meditation on life and death that may just move you to tears...without even trying.
  • A middle-aged brother and sister and their families visit their aging parents on the fifteenth anniversary of their brother Junpei's death from drowning while saving another boy. Relationships between generations are strained, however, and patriarch Kyohei (Yoshio Harada), a former doctor, does not hide his resentment for his surviving son Ryoto (Hiroshi Abe), an out of work art restorer. Selected as the best film at the Toronto International Film Festival in a poll of film critics and bloggers, Hirokazu Koreeda's Still Walking is a family-oriented comedy/drama about generational conflict and the consequences of loss. Unfolding in real time over a twenty-four hour period, it has been compared to Ozu's Tokyo Story in its intimate interchanges that accurately capture the way families relate to each other but lacks Ozu's warmth and subtlety.

    The day is spent with routine activities such as preparing meals and playing with the small children. Kyohei remains detached and hides in his office, pretending to be occupied with medical business. He only emerges to bicker with his wife (Kiki Kinn) and play with his grandson. Ryoto, who did not look forward to the reunion, is put off by his father's disdain for his profession of art restoration and his coolness toward his new wife Yukari (Yui Natsukawa). She craves acceptance for herself and her son Atsushi (Shoehi Tanaka) from a previous marriage in which her husband died. A picture of the deceased Junpei is placed in the center of the Yokoyama family house reminding Ryoto that whatever he does, he cannot measure up to Junpei, who was to be his father's heir.

    He also notices that his sister Chinami (You) has no such expectations and her life with her car-salesman husband and two children seems outside of the range of family conflicts. When the boy that Junpei rescued visits the family, sneering remarks are made about his bulky frame and lack of ambition and old resentments come to the surface. After Chinami and her family leave, it is clear that Ryoto wishes he had not agreed to spend the night but conflicts seem to soften with the passage of time. Based on a novel by the director and occasioned by the death of his mother and the discussions of his childhood they had during her last days, Still Walking has a sense of naturalism and simplicity that is endearing.
  • GyatsoLa20 January 2010
    Its not often I return to see a film immediately to see it again, but this is a film which demands it. This is a masterly film by Koreeda following an ordinary middle class Japanese family has they have an annual reunion to commemorate the older brother who died rescuing a boy from drowning. In its slow, gentle, poetic way, this film brings us into the heart of the family so well you feel it is your own - indeed, the characters are so real, so richly portrayed, that you almost come to believe you know them as well as your own family.

    A simple plot précis doesn't do justice to what this film is about. It shines a light into those repressed areas of resentment, sentimentality, nostalgia, guilt and desire that are so often hidden behind a facade of politeness. Koreeda is too subtle a director to have any big blow ups or surprises - he reveals his characters in a gentle manner as detail is laid upon detail. When the ending comes it is not a surprise, but it is still profoundly moving and thought provoking. This is a film that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

    A lot has been made about the films debt to Ozu. I think this is very overstated - although there are one or two stylistic nods to Ozu at the beginning, Koreeda is a very different type of film maker. Unlike Ozu he uses tiny surreal moments of beauty to contrast with the realism of the rest of the film. His use of editing and camera work is far less formal and rigorous - instead he allows the camera to follow the characters, revealing the layers of the home. And most importantly, while Ozu emphasised the death of the traditional Japanese family and considered it with sad resignation, Koreeda sees families as all alike, stuck in a series of inescapable cycles. In many respects this film reminded me more of some of Naruse's classic films than Ozu.

    The cast is uniformly excellent, with Kiki Kirin utterly wonderful as the grandmother. The only very small quibble I have with the casting is that Koreeda succumbed somewhat to casting some characters who are a little too elegant and good looking for the 'normal' people they portray. Hiroshi Abe and Yui Natsukata are maybe a little too good looking to be convincing as the less than 100% welcome family members. But that is a very minor criticism of what is a terrific ensemble piece.

    I think this film is one of the finest of the year and may well come to be seen as a classic. It can certainly sit comfortably with any of the great films of Japans golden era.
  • This film by writer/director Koreeda is a triumph of simplicity. Telling the story of a family who meet annually to mark the death of oldest son Junpei at the parent's house, you're struck by how well this flows. The acting is uniformly very good and the story never lags. The best thing I found about this film is how it could have been done without a script, if the actors were given this scenario. There is bitterness, pettiness and even selfishness here, all earmarks of the subject matter. I found the stylistic similarities to Ozu films to be very touching and not a bit off putting. When I watched this film in a theater in New York, people applauded at the end. This is about as real life as it gets. Its a universal theme, not a Japanese one. My hat is off to the writer/director, its a fine film.
  • I very much enjoyed Nobody Knows (Dare Mo Shiranai) and After Life (Wonderful Life) immensely and found another good and engaging movie with Still Walking. Kore Eda seems to be in a small group of directors who use minimal music and other traditional movie elements in order to convey the story to the viewer. Just as talking in a low voice will elicit the heightened command of a listener, so too does Kore Eda use subtle dialogue and action to focus the viewers attention to what's going on.

    I can totally relate to the family in Still Walking because they come across as anyone's family. Literally. I felt as though I could have been watching my own family and not some Japanese family to whom I could not relate. All the elements are there from the big-city adult children coming to visit their small-town parents with their children en tow. The interplay between the fast pace of urban life and slow pace of rural life meet somewhere in the middle. Throughout, I felt as I usually do in a Kore Eda movie: a silent and invisible observer.

    The premise of the movie is that the family gathers together once a year on the anniversary of the death of the eldest son who we learn had drowned saving the life of another person who himself was attempting to commit suicide by drowning in the sea. As you may know, in Japanese society, if you save the life of someone who wishes to commit suicide, you effectively are responsible for their life going forward. In this case, the person doing the saving, the eldest son, had died in the process. So we see the person who he saved return year after year to be reminded in an indebted but somewhat cruel manner that he is alive and that he will be, for the rest of the parent's of deceased lives, be required to suffer the (cultural) humility of "being alive" while their son is dead.

    We also see the typical social dilemma of what to do as ones aging parents and additional interplay between the surviving son and his new, but widowed, wife and her child. We've seen the transaction a million times in other movies: mother in law has her comments and opinions, wife complains to the husband about her and her son's treatment, son has to either stand up to the parents or find some middle ground.

    All in all, it's well played out and I was very pleased by this film. It's an amalgam of growth, change, sacrifice, forgiveness, and the road we all have to travel as we get older or if we have children ourselves. Oddly though, the film's title doesn't make sense until near the end of the movie.
  • Koreeda's Aruite Mo Aruite Mo is a consideration of family that is part homage, part vivisection. The comparisons to Ozu that have been made are fitting, the film a return to the Golden Age of Japanese film-making when a distinctly Japanese setting was employed to convey universal themes. The domestic setting, limited time-frame, and even knee-high camera placement all deliberately connote Ozu, but not so much to bow before him, as to re-invent him, to update or even evolve the form. Koreeda seems to have set out less to pay his respects to Ozu, as to surpass him.

    Ryota brings his new wife and stepson home to to meet his family on the anniversary of his older brother Junpei's passing. The cycle of pettiness, accusation, pouting and recrimination soon kicks in, familiar theatre of family that will have people recalling Thanksgiving get-togethers, Hogmanany parties, Christmas fall-outs... The joy is in the details of Koreeda's observations, and the forceful animation of them by the cast. From the opening conversation between mother and daughter, playful banter on lessons never learned, wisdom refused, the tone of interdependence with tense undercurrents is set.

    YOU as Chinami is more straightforward than her mis-maternal role in Nobody Knows, angling to move in with her parents by talking to her mother as a type, rather than as a person. Kirin Kiki is best known these days here in Japan for her comic outing in the Fuji film commercials. She excels there and here, sweet and doddering at one point, and yet scary, almost vicious at others, as when she reveals the depth of her loathing for Yoshio, the boy-now-man whom her son Junpei died saving from drowning. Her cool gaze upon her grandchildren is evidence of Koreeda's consummate ease in avoiding sentimentality. Hiroshi Abe holds up his end more than competently as the brooding Ryota. Recently 're-structured', he finds his conflicting roles as failed breadwinner, failed heir, struggling stepfather and less-favoured son all brought to salience in this one event. He is too proud to admit his jobless status, but not man enough to help his wife carry the bags. He reacts just as his father reacts to the shock of retirement, or his mother reacts to facing life's disappointments - by lashing out. He is a grown man in gaudy cheap pajamas bought by his mum. He competes with not one ghost, but two - his brother, and his wife's first husband. Who can shine in comparison with martyrs?

    Families can be joyous and awful, and Koreeda captures that to a tee. The film seems to go on a beat too long, past a line on the bus that seems the natural ending, but then the final narration (reminiscent of Twilight Samurai) and graveside scene pull it all together poignantly. Granddad thinks they will be back at New Year - they won't. Chinami thinks her mother wants them to move in - she doesn't. Yoshio thinks he is welcome every year - he isn't. Families are destined to misunderstand each other. And yet the honouring of Junpei, the father cracking water-melons with his children, Granddad reaching out to his step-grandson - the succour of family is also portrayed here.

    No one does bitter-sweet and elegiac quite like Koreeda, and in Aruite Mo Aruite Mo he achieves the quintessential mix that he was arguably striving for in After Life and Maboroshi. This is a film both comforting and challenging, that may just turn out to be Koreeda's masterpiece.
  • "Still Walking" aka "Aruitemo Aruitemo" Yet another superb delivery from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda who gave us "Nobody Knows" in 2004. It's like we're eavesdropping on a private family reunion event. Central to the story is from the viewpoint of the second son, Ryota at age 40, going home to his parents' house via public transport with his new wife, a widow, and her 10 year old son from previous marriage. Yes, he doesn't own a car like his sister and brother in law. He's actually wary about hiding the fact that he doesn't have a substantial job and asks his wife not to breathe a word at the family occasion. His parents will be disappointed, especially his father who has counted on the second son to take on the family medical clinic business and be a doctor rather than any other trade - since the eldest died 15 years ago. Ryota has 'imprisoned' himself by these expectations which he is unable to, and frankly does not want to, fulfill. Underneath the pleasant bantering with his mother, we can tell he is struggling to find himself, make peace with himself and go on with his life.

    Writer-director-editor Koreeda's passion provided us a close look (ever so casually, unhurried at its own pace so we get to be familiarized with each member of the family) on how a Japanese family might function on such a reunion gathering. We are put at ease watching mother and daughter preparing food in the kitchen, the whole family huddled around the meal table, the spontaneous exchanges. By and by, subtle clues are displayed and we may see the other side to each person's personality and hidden desires. Then there are pause moments to relish some family coziness or mother-son cordial exchanges. The storyline is far from 'flat' at its leisurely pace: "familiarity breeds contempt" or "absence makes the heart grows fonder" - either could be true. As the evening goes on, more aspects surface - be it mother, father, son, daughter in law, or grandson - we share their sentiments, satisfied or empathized.

    "Still Walking" is a rich film. We are fortunate to experience it with so many levels rendered to us. I appreciate the reverence paid to the traditional family ritual of honoring the dead. Yes, a chance for a family outing, seeing Ryota and his 'new' family - wife and stepson - together is encouraging. The 'yellow butterflies' folklore is heartening.

    The film also brings to mind quotes from Louise L. Hay's book, "Heart Thoughts - A Treasury of Inner Wisdom" on forgiveness (page 90): "We do not have to know how to forgive. All we have to do is be willing to forgive. The Universe will take care of the how." And on happiness (page 94): "Happiness is feeling good about yourself."

    The theme music by Gonchichi is just right for the mood and state of inner peace - its guitar playing chords and melodic strains is quietly serene. What a soothing melody, giving the film a resigned, calming, happy with himself again leisurely tempo - simply apt to the story of "Still Walking." Visit the official site 'www.aruitemo.com' and you can listen to the music and check out 'Director's Statement' with Koreeda talking about his film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Still Walking', the stunning new film from Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, begins with a premise so stale and overused that to read a plot synopsis of the movie is discouraging enough to prevent you from seeing it. A family reuniting for the anniversary of a loved one's death is nothing new in the world of cinema, and American TV movies have been churning out cloying, sickeningly saccharine variations on it for the past fifty years. Yet here is a film so refreshing and truthful that it restores your faith (almost completely) in the domestic drama.

    The similarities to Ozu are obvious; had this been directed by him, it might stand quite comfortably alongside his masterpieces. The comparisons that have been made between the great Japanese director and Koreeda are fully deserved. Like Ozu, he makes extensive and inventive use of a stationary camera, always arranging his shots to perfection: often, after a moment of discussion or 'drama', we are taken away from the characters and the camera lingers, providing a seemingly superfluous shot. This was an Ozu trademark, and it is used with reverence here; at times the camera focuses on seemingly trivial things, such as broken bath tiles or a flower in a glass, pale in the twilight. It allows us to digest what we have seen. The detail in his shots is quietly breathtaking: Koreeda has an eye for family meals and rituals in particular, and these scenes are handled masterfully.

    The film follows Ryota, his wife and his stepson as they return to his parents' home on the anniversary of his elder brother Junpei's death. It is gradually revealed that he was drowned while rescuing a young boy, now grown older. In Ozu's 'Tokyo Story', it was the parents who were the caring couple becoming victims of their children's' greed and selfishness in their old age; here, it is the parents who bicker, both with themselves and their children, making petty insinuations due to their outdated ideals and the tragedy they have suffered; it is their living children who suffer as a result. Yet there are no earth shattering arguments among smashed crockery, and very rarely a raised voice; by the time we meet these people, the arguments are past, only to be replaced by stifled politeness and bitter mutterings. They have settled into a routine; it is at once their refuge and their weapon, their greatest ailment but their only means of communication. If it weren't for the fact that it was Ryota's duty to return home each year on the anniversary of his brother's death, he might never return at all: his father quietly chastises him for never calling his mother, to which Ryota's reply is that she always complains when he does.

    How wise this film is in comparison to so many of its counterparts, where oversimplified, long standing feuds are rectified in a single visit! This film is far too mature to fall into that trap. It contains layer upon layer of characterisation: we get the sense that what we are seeing is a real family, not a TV cardboard cut out. Their issues are buried deep in the past, and as Koreeda notices, it is almost always the tiny, minute details that a family argues about - often referenced briefly and indirectly. And what an abundance of these we see, some never explained; it is through these microscopic specifics that Koreeda, with delicate precision, provides insight into his characters and their lives: the fact that the old patriarch, a retired doctor, refuses to go shopping because he is too proud to be seen by his neighbours carrying a shopping bag; the fact that his wife would have preferred her son to marry a divorced woman rather that a widow. These are some of the more trivial. There are mounds to discover.

    Perhaps the finest scene in the film is one in which Ryota and his mother Toshiko are talking in the kitchen together. It is nearly the end of the day and Ryota will be leaving in the morning. Earlier, in the afternoon, the boy that Junpei saved when he drowned visited to pay his respects. We learn that he does this every year, as Toshiko always invites him, and it is painful to notice the subtle ways in which Toshiko, with a sympathetic smile and polite tone, gently treats him with derision and belittles him. In the evening, Ryota and Toshika are making small talk about a sumo wrestler. The way in which that small talk gradually leads to Toshiko's painful admission of why she invites the boy every year is so subtle it is almost indiscernible; but what an honest, heart wrenching, cruel admission it is. There is no background music, and the camera, stationary, provides a close up of the side of Toshiko's face, downcast, as she speaks. It's an amazing scene.

    And when the twenty four hour visit is over, very little is rectified. Meaningless promises are made, resentments still fester, they are still awkward with each other. These people are desperate, and as we begin to learn, they want desperately to reach out to each other. But it is too awkward, and the honesty it would require would be far too painful. They are distinctly human, ignoring the problems and running away. And then, of course, it's too late, and all that's left is the broken pieces and the disappointment.

    What a sad, meditative film this is, handled with such astounding tenderness and compassion. But there are bittersweet moments, and even hope is to be found here! Far from being simple and cloying, this is an extraordinarily complex gem of a film, containing emotional truths and nuances that even the longest essay couldn't fully disclose. Words just can't be found to explain some things... and what a mess that fact makes of their lives!
  • At the risk of stating the obvious this is a very "japanese" movie, and those who have seen a few will know what I mean. Another reviewer has, with some justification, decried the notion that because a movie is Japanese it seems to automatically attain some sort of semi-mythical status that the same movie made in (say) America would not. Certainly there is a genre of Japanese movies that fall into the "movies where nothing happen" category, and as with many forms of art, sometimes we mistake emptiness and simplicity with great meaning. Sometimes it's hard to tell where greatness actually exists and where we make it up for ourselves, although I suppose since the final result is the same it is a bit of a moot point.

    This movie borrows heavily from "Tokyo Story", another glacially paced movie of the inter-generational genre, but whereas the thrust of that movie was the younger generation's indifference and lack of time for the older generation this one is more about the simmering conflicts related to the death of a son, barely concealed resentments related to career choices, the failure to meet fatherly expectations, a mother's long held grudges, etc. As a family meets to commemorate the death of a son, we see a fine web of cracks start to radiate, all bubbling away nicely within the perfectly regimented framework of Japanese politeness and etiquette. The cracks are delicate but deep as the characters tip-toe around the many issues that interconnect 3 generations. Lurking below the surface of civility we see unpleasant aspects of most of the characters but in true Japanese style there are no raised voices, no shouting matches, no slammed doors, no accusations, no resolutions, no explosions, no car chases, no nudity, no violence - just swirling undercurrents. Some people will like this, others will not, and that is fine.

    I enjoyed this movie, but it was not a world shattering event. I thought some opportunities for development were missed and I was particularly annoyed when the movie did not finish immediately after the narration near the end. This could have been a totally killer statement, at last, a statement of truth and brutal cruelty to contrast cataclysmically with the hour of banal politeness and withholding of feelings that preceded it. This would have given the whole movie some meaning and bite, but no, they had to spoil it by reverting to the pretense of everyone playing happy families.

    In summary a good movie that those used to the "japanese" pace will enjoy, but probably not one that will change your life.
  • pc9523 May 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Aruteimo, Aruteimo", directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, starts off very pedestrian-like (no joke intended) but grows in importance and substantive weight of it's content. (Major Spoilers) Taking a good 30 min to unveil it's true story arc and purpose, this movie is a bit slow to rise, but once we understand the impact of the memorial much of the character's motivations are understood and become clear. (Spoilers) I enjoyed the butterfly scenes, and the mother expressing her grief through it. Although the beginning of the movie does not have narration, the end blasts in with it, almost crushing us with it's lamentation. It serves a good warning - that people may have good intentions, but often important or friendship-building plans get forgotten or fail to materialize. A poignant drama despite slow pacing.
  • andrenalin_0427 February 2009
    Forty-something art restorer Yokoyama Ryota (Abe Hiroshi) reluctantly returns to his parents' home with his new wife Yukari (Natsukawa Yui) for a rare reunion. The family is holding a memorial for the eldest son who passed away 15 years ago, and Ryota has not been looking forward to the occasion. To his father (Harada Yoshio), Ryota can never compare to his late brother, and silent resentment has accumulated between father and son over the years. Likewise, Ryota's mother (Kiki Kirin) carries years of bottled frustrations and disappointments that slip out in casual, cutting remarks. Only sister Chinami (You) seems to somehow keep herself above the family drama. As the day wears on, the family runs through the simple gestures and complex emotions that keep them together and push them apart.
  • If the title music is anything to go by this will be a gentle sentimental sad little film.

    Grandma is wrapping sea urchin in cucumber. The sushi preparations made me hungry for some (corn tempura anybody?) It bimbles along, amiable in-house family chat.

    By about half way I've got bored by it though, even slightly irritated; the life-in-a-day ordinary everydayness has become prosaic and dramatically underdone: too much mundane chat of the "Not a lot on telly these days" variety is being slopped into that sushi.

    And that sugary guitar soundtrack motif keeps smoothing in swashes of sentimental reverie; nice-ifying and prettifying up scenes as though they were meant to be meaning something sweetly sad.

    I appreciate Koreeda wanting the acting to understate feelings so as to avoid melodramatic clichés; but he should be doing something more actively engaging with the screenplay. In the absence of enacted – or dramatically expressed – emotion just sticking a sad guitar in there now and again is too easy.

    Koreeda – on the DVD extra – actually seems like quite a nice person; sweetly souled, gently dispositioned; smiles more than he says, but a sad touch to his looks sometimes. This film a kind of personal testament to his mother who'd died 2 years previously. And although i usually like films that feel intimate, are right up close and personal – this seemed almost like a vanity project; too narrowly self-absorbed, too self-indulgently fussy.

    In the end i was glad to get away from the whole family set-up. There are times when the ordinary everyday requires a bit of a kick up the ..... This was one of them.
  • 'Still Walking' is a quiet film about a Japanese family which gathers annually to commemorate the life of a now dead member; perhaps you could say it's too quiet, especially as half of the visitors depart just half-way through. But it's shrewd on perceptive when it comes to observing the frailties and sensitivities that define us all, especially (although not exclusively) the natural cantankerousness of the old, even those who love us. For a westerner, part of the interest in this film is the way that it addresses universal themes, but from a peculiarly Japanese perspective. The resemblance of the grandfather to Colonel Saunders is purely superficial.
  • lgcnascimento29 October 2009
    Maybe we all are expecting a new Osu , Misoguchi or Kurosawa , so we are always eager to follow the production of contemporary Japanese directors . Koreeda is a possible hope for the Japanese great Cinema History, his picture "Nobody nows" was already ahead of the flock. And now this "Still walking" is a very good surprise, an invaluable work. The treatment of an average modern Japanese family is touching, to say the less. The film poses the concept that although Japan is modern and fully electronic driven, with 4G networks and gadgets , there is still a hardcore of tradition, the old people have a somewhat cold environment in everyday life and some bad feelings are disguised. And the pace keeps the same for the new generation ,at least down Yokohama. I've just seen the title but I will take a couple of weeks to fully understand it.
  • sano_ani15 December 2013
    After reading the plot, I expected 'Still Walking' to be one of those melodramatic family reunion films where the members reunite one day and resolve all their differences. Well in reality, It's much more subtle than that and actually brings out why, in real-life, reconciliation is much harder than we may expect or like it to be, even among family members. Some disagreements that you may have have with your mom or dad may be such that you will have to go against your principles/values if you want to make peace with them. These are the kinds of issues that are portrayed in this film, with beauty and emotional intensity. But there is a message of reconciliation as well because although the characters have their differences, they try their best to get through the occasion without hurting each other's feelings and at least trying to pretend as if their differences do not matter when they're together. I am starting to really like Hirokazu Koreeda's works. If you like watching films that have a strong social,family-based narrative, you should really check out Koreeda's films. In a nutshell - Is it a deeply moving film? yes. Is it a realistic portrayal of common family issues? Yes. But is it one of those "and they happily lived together ever after" films? No.
  • "Few other nations can capture the beauty of family drama with such subtlety and grace as the Japanese can." (as Japan can, you mean? "the Japanese" is not a "nation") "While watching the movie, I found it hard not to be immersed by the beauty of Japanese suburbia." (immersed _in_, surely?).

    Poor grammar aside, statements such as these are notable for their exoticism of Japan, likely based on ignorance of what life in Japan is actually like. As a non-Japanese living in Japan, I am unfortunately all too familiar with approaches such as these. Japan is mystical. Japan is futuristic. Japan is strange. Japan is etc. If only all the reviewers here (notably non- Japanese, notably positive reviewers) would actually come and live and/or work in Japan, they could experience this supposed "beauty of family drama" and "beauty of Japanese suburbia" themselves. Then, they might see this movie for what it is: a Japanese version of a Hollywood movie: appealing to the masses, simply confirming family values (Dad might be grumpy, but he loves you after all!, nobody's perfect, etc.) and most definitely nothing special or new. A bad movie? No. But do you really believe, as another reviewer here wrote, "Only Japanese movies seems to be able to go so deeply into subtleties of family affairs as this one."? (again with the poor grammar - I think they're trying to say, "Only Japanese movies such as this one seem to be able to go so deeply into the subtleties of family affairs.")

    This is a mediocre movie with ratings/reviews inflated by reviewers who exoticise Japan. If this movie was set in the United States with Hollywood actors, it would be recognized for what it is: a cheesy, average film. Discrimination, whether positive or negative, is still discrimination. Yet another reviewer here wrote of the Japanese, "They're not like American people. They're not ordinary people." Uh, they are ordinary humans like the rest of us and this movie proves it.
  • adamshl16 February 2010
    A respected art house audience film that likewise connects with critics. This Ozu-influenced drama is heavy on Japanese culture, particularly family values. Those unfamiliar with this culture may have difficulty understanding character thinking and motivation.

    For myself, I tend to appreciate the authentic look to the drama, without feeling or caring much about what happens. The often static camera during family meals (the time spent eating seems to be filmed in real time) didn't help much in providing movement to the enactment.

    Actually, I prefer the French film, "A Sunday in the Country," which has a similar feel and is much more involving. That's purely my reaction, and will concede the art house where it's playing is the best place for it and where it needs to be.
  • The attempt to bring Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" (1953) into a new millennium with all its cultural changes, technological updates and mounting family pitfalls is no small feat. And yet Hirokazu Koreeda, coming from such gems as "Maborosi" (1995) or "After Life" (1998), got the seeming impossible just right. By keeping it simple. By showing, and listening. While inspired by the master's work, with a nod here and there, the film eventually stands on its own and draws its own conclusions.

    "Still Walking" is another film about family, a Koreeda speciality, shot from a neo-realistic angle with multi-dimensional characters one might find at like-minded western contemporaries offering slice-of-life cinema like Mike Leigh or Ken Loach. In the mix: the generation gap, false hopes and lost dreams, love, grief, resentment, birth discussed, death lingering - it's all part of this intimate portrayal of a middle class Japanese family ranging from innocent five-year olds to the grumpy patriarch. Life is complicated, as are people, and answers are difficult, and sometimes truth has to be ignored by the one or the other, for the sake of being able to cope.

    Don't expect a big story here, rather bits and pieces, brought to the forefront by a director who steps back to let people unfold. There's no melodrama, no orchestral music to ensure eyes tearing up, no big stuff, no open confrontations, no surprising twist. This is about ordinary people, and how life goes on, one way or another. Koreeda observes in a subtle, understated, fly-on-the-wall kind of way, and despite or because of the unobtrusive eye of the beholder gets something deep and poignant across that is bigger than single events and, ultimately, bigger than us.
  • edge54713 November 2018
    Still Walking gives us a look into the lives of one ordinary Japanese family. The story takes place mostly in one day. It is not an ordinary day exactly, but one in which the family gathers together in remembrance. Gradually and naturally the backstory unfolds.

    The way that the story is told is really what is so wonderful about it. I cannot think of any other film off the top of my head that tells this kind of a story so well. It seems so natural and the filmmakers make it look easy, but it's not.

    The way the family interacts, the dialog, each character's little idiosyncrasies, it's all done perfectly and flawlessly. There a is a point near the beginning of the film where the matriarch tells a story of an interaction with her neighbors years earlier. The way the story is told and the other characters' reaction feel so real and lifelike.

    Everything about the film feels like an ordinary family. Even though this family is in Japan, a country I've never visited, I felt connected to them while watching this. Everything was so relatable to the point that this could have been a real day in the life of a real family shot using hidden cameras.

    The way the mother manipulated the daughter-in-law and dishes out underhanded compliments, the way they all tell boring stories that they've all heard a hundred times, the way the son is hesitant to leave his wife alone with his mother out of fear that she'll accidentally give away his little white lies that no one really even cares about but him...all of it feels just like real life, made even better by the wonderful acting from even the children.

    And of course the camerawork is great. Everything is done extremely well here. I won't give away too much of the ending, which on its surface could be considered mundane, except to say that it is bittersweet and perfect.
  • I thought the actors, none of whom I had ever seen before, were all quite good. I particularly liked the father who played as Kyohei--he was unpredictable and sometimes he looks mad sometimes he looks smiling, but you could see that he was taking everything in the scene. I think he's slightly aggressive.
  • I never knew who was Hirokazu Koreeda before but after this film i salute him. The direction, the acting, and the unique feeling "Still Walking" give just amazing. Don't expect dramatic scene in this film. It's a meditation about life. The acting from Kiki Kirin just unbelievable, stunning, and very very natural. The film just a daily life experience yet it's touching like no other films does. Still Walking feels very close to a detail of family reunion and very touching. Authentic experience of family drama. What a great cinema experience. I will never forget this film in my life. 9 out 10.
  • ebiros225 September 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is written, scripted, edited, and directed by the unusually prolific director Hirokazu Koreeda, who's every movie seems to win at international film festivals. This movie "Aruitemo Aruitemo" (walking, walking - endless walk) is no exception, winning four international film awards, and two domestic awards.

    Ryota Yokoyama (Hiroshi Abe), his wife Yukari (Yui Natsukawa), and their son from Yukari's previous marriage Atsushi (Shohei Tanaka) is on their way back to Ryota's parent's house for the 15th anniversary of Ryota's older brother's death. Ryota's father's family consists of father Kyohei (Yoshio Harada), mother Toshiko (Kiki Kirin), and daughter Chinami Kataoka (YOU), her husband Nobuo (Kazuya Takahashi), and their two children Riku (Ryoga Hayashi), and Satsuki (Hotaru Nomoto). In a way, father who's a retired family doctor, and his family has never recovered from the death of Ryota's brother Junpei who died while trying to save a drowning boy Yoshio Imai (who survived and was visiting to offer incense to Junpei's spirit). When Ryota, and Junpei was a child they had aspiration to become a doctor like their father. Something changed Ryota, and he never pursued becoming a doctor, and became an antique restorer. His father still moans the loss of Junpei who he was counting to take over his business. Father sees Ryota as a failure, and their relation is not quite good. Ryota who's currently don't have a job feels uncomfortable in every situation. He even says to Kyohei "Is being a doctor so great !? We don't know how brother would have been either(If he had lived).". As the story progresses, history, and the story of each of the character's life gets revealed. Toshiko bring out an old record titled "Bluelight Yokohama" (Performed by Ayumi Ishida) at the family dinner, and plays it. It was a song she heard 30 years ago when she went to check out the apartment of a woman Kyohei was having extramarital affair with. But family tie dies hard, and Ryota says to Kyohei "Some day (I'll take you to see a game of soccer)". Seven years later, both Kyohei and Toshiko are dead, and Ryota's family has a new member - a daughter. Together they return to pay respect to the grave of their family.

    Nothing spectacular happens in this movie, but as I watched the first 10 minutes, I was already enthralled by the acting, and the story. I honestly felt that "I don't care if nothing happens, I'm intrigued by this family, and I want to see more.". Details are written superbly. The discomfort Atsushi feels with his cousins, the obligation Yukari feels towards Ryota's parents. All adds to the friction each are feeling in their lives. Mother played by Kiki Kirin is so perfect for the role. Without her, this movie wouldn't have been as good as it is. Hiroshi Abe, and Yui Natsukawa reprises the duo after "Kekkon Dekinai Otoko", and are superb match as modern husband and wife.

    The people in this movie seems to have lived their lives without a plan, didn't know when to let go, and plan their actions for the future. The death of Junpei seemed have negatively affected the whole family forever.

    Good movie that reflects the life of Japanese family in an authentic way. Only Japanese movies seems to be able to go so deeply into subtleties of family affairs as this one. You need to see this movie to appreciate family affairs.
  • There is much in Japan that is romantic...but not in this family...

    The characters in this Japan are not romantically resigned to their fate but committed to renewing it and reminding themselves of their disappointment in it....disappointment is their normal...in that they are more Mizoguchi than Ozu...they even dabble in vengeance you'd find in a Kurosawa family drama...

    It is not uncommon for people to refuse to forget their past ... and enslaved by that past be all too often bound to repeat it...intentionally rubbing their fates in it...

    Resignation to fate may be romanticized in some films, but not here at this film's core...the power that moves these people is not their dreams but the nightmares, obligations, and uncredited family contributions that keep them from moving to their future....

    We have hopes for these people even if they don't hope much hope for themselves....and in our hope we have a wonderful movie...

    The only negative reaction I had was at the end when the narrator explained the future...through the film we saw enough of their future without it, and what the images didn't explain gave us enough to wonder how the narrator's relationship with his parents was resolved....as it is, he explained it and I wish he hadn't...I would have liked to imagine the possibilities...but that's the romantic in me.

    This story is mercilessly intimate, and recommended....
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Aruitemo aruitemo" is about ordinary Japanese people. Comparable to the 1980 Robert Redford-directed film starring Timothy Hutton, this Far East import also deals with a mom, and how she distributes her love among the children unequally, forcing the left behind son to compete against the dead one, the favored one, the first born. Fifteen years ago, Ryo's brother died in the ocean while trying to save another boy. With a wife and child among him, Ryota(Hiroshi Abe) has returned home for a reunion(to commemorate the fifteen-year anniversary of his sibling's untimely passing), where he faces not just a frosty mother, but a father who's the antithesis to the sire played by Donald Sutherland in the Redford film. Ryota brings home damaged goods; his wife and child are widow and stepson, and they rate far below their daughter's husband and two children, in spite of the Japanese people's partiality for boys over girls. Whereas Calvin Jarrett(Sutherland) loved his son unconditionally, Kyohei(Yoshio Harada) admonishes Ryota for not following in his footsteps by becoming a doctor. Although the surviving son is in the restoration business too, artwork can't begin to compete with the prestige of fixing people, thus the wedge was set between them years ago, and festers there still, throughout the duration of what will be his final visit back home. The mother(played by Kirin Kiri), who seems to be the more congenial parent, entertains Ryo's wife with her son's childhood things, and pulls out an old school essay, in which the boy had expressed an admiration for his father and the medical profession. But that fatal accident at the beach had brought out the truth in how the family worked, so Ryo turned to art history, probably to spite his father who loved him half as much as the first born. Sympathetic portrayals both, the widow and the stepson, nevertheless, they follow the pattern of reduced expectation, in which Ryo, had his brother lived on, would have married more prudently, and summoned a blushing bride for procreation. Told in retrospect, "Aruitemo aruitemo" takes place, perhaps, about ten years in the past, the amount of time it took Ryota to make peace with his parents, and love them unconditionally, once again.

    "Your family isn't normal," says Toshiko to her son, on the return trip from a pilgrimage to the dead son's grave. She doesn't count Ryo's stepson as his real child. Such bluntness shocks, the cruelty of her words. Clearly, the tragedy had curdled her heart. At the outset, the mother makes corn "tempura" for her familial guests, especially the children, but on this same walking tour, the moviegoer learns that she can barely stand kids, and shudders at the thought of her daughter's filial plan of moving back home with her family. The filmmaker excels at showing how oblivious the young children are to the anger that bubbles beneath the surface of each family gathering. They don't see that the grown-ups are ready to implode. The mother's worst behavior, however, is reserved for the boy who survived, an overweight dropout with no career prospects whom the family invites every year, so that he remembers the sacrifice made on his behalf, a sacrifice in vain. The mother tells Ryota that he wants the boy to suffer just as she had suffered. The father calls him "trash". In "Ordinary People", the surviving brother(Hutton) was at the scene of the boating accident, and is made to feel by the mother(played by Mary Tyler Moore) that the wrong son lived on. In light of the parents' disapproval over his family life and occupation, it's easy to see how Ryo might feel that mom and dad are projecting on the hapless guest, their disappointment over himself being the only surviving male heir.

    When Ryota returns home, his parents are long-dead, but now he has a new addition, a daughter, who joins her parents and brother in honoring the grandparents she never met. As he pours water over their tombstone, the moviegoer speculates as to why Ryota finally made peace with his folks. Our eyes turn to the little girl, and we remember the old woman's words. The moviegoer wonders if he agrees with her. The dousing of the tombstones can be read as a son waking up his parents, in order for them see the grandchild they always wanted. Considering how Ryota's parents felt about the widow and stepson, it's somewhat perverse for them to participate in the ceremony. "Aruitemo aruitemo" is very, very Japanese. They're not like American people. They're not ordinary people.
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