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.
A family gathers together for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear.
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April 6, 2019