Wim Wenders Finding beauty in everyday life – The Hollywood Reporter

Keeping a long ending shot on a character’s face is often an effective way to clear up any thoughts and feelings running through their head, to keep them resonating through the end credits. and even further. The device performs exceptionally well in Call me by your name, blessing And Michael Clayton.

Wim Wenders ends his eloquent and emotional Japanese drama, perfect dayWith such a shot, stick to Koji Yakusho’s unusually expressive face as his character drives through Tokyo to reflect on the rewards and perhaps even the regrets of life with the same spirit of openness. open and accepting, accepting sadness as much as joy.

perfect day

Key point

Indescribably lovely.

Location: Cannes Film Festival (Competition)
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Tokio Emoto, Arisa Nakano, Aoi Yamada, Yumi Aso, Sayuri Ishikawa, Tomokazu Miura, Min Tanaka
Manager: Wim Wenders
Writer: Wim Wender, Takuma Takasaki

2 hours 5 minutes

The song this resolutely similar man is listening to on his car cassette player is a Nina Simone standard that has become one of the most used pieces of music in contemporary films. But it fits the context precisely and captures the way the character moves through his little world with such precision that it feels almost like hearing the song for the first time.

Almost four decades after following in Ozu’s footsteps in the documentary Tokyo-Ga, Wenders returns to the Japanese capital to work on his best narrative work in years. Rich with a vivid sense of place, the film is inspired by the Japanese word komorebidepicts the shimmering game of light and shadow through the leaves, each with a unique flickering motion.

Around that humble natural development, the director has created a deceivingly simple film that observes the petty details of everyday life with such clarity, sincerity, and empathy that they creates a cumulative emotional force that you barely realize. It’s also dispassionate without skepticism, unmistakably the work of a mature filmmaker who thinks long and hard about the things that make life meaningful. Perhaps a more solitary life than any.

The life at the center of every frame — enhanced in intimacy by the comfortable 1.33:1 aspect ratio — is the life of Hirayama, played by Yakusho with relatively few words but plenty of it. bottomless emotions. He got the job that seemed the least likely for the protagonist of a contemplative two-hour film – working for a private contractor who cleans toilets in public parks in the Shibuya district. The company’s obvious name, Tokyo Toilet, is embellished with white on the back of Hirayama’s blue overalls.

The first thing worth noting about this work is the actual toilet. These are not your ordinary public facilities in most Western countries but architecturally distinctive structures that from the outside could be almost mistaken for temples or shrines. small. That is consistent with Hirayama approaching his work with monastic discipline and serious dedication.

Unlike his lazy junior colleague Takashi (Tokio Emoto), who is always late and often too focused on his phone to get the job done thoroughly, Hirayama has a structured system and a series of products as well as necessary cleaning tools for all your jobs. valve. There’s something quite moving about the way he quickly steps out and patiently stands whenever someone needs to use the devices while he’s at work.

To most people, Hirayama is invisible. But one of the points of the film, written so clearly and frugally by Wenders and Takuma Takasaki, is that even the most humble, invisible life can contain spiritual wealth.

That aspect is immediately apparent in the dramatic opening sequence, in which Hirayama wakes up at dawn to the sound of an old woman sweeping the street with a birch broom outside her window. He quickly folded his mattress and neatly tucked his bed into a corner, brushed his teeth, shaved and trimmed his mustache, then misted the trees, taking a moment to sit back and smile at his progress. of them. He smiles again when he goes out every morning and looks up at the sky.

The fascination with the most ordinary everyday rituals certainly recalls Chantal Akerman Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels. The feeling of a life free of clutter, reduced to the essentials of both duty and pleasure, continued throughout Hirayama’s day.

He picks a cassette from his extensive collection of ’60s and ’70s rock music to listen to in his truck (allowing Wenders to enjoy the movie with Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, The) Animals, The Kinks, etc.). He eats lunch on the same bench in the temple garden every day, photographing the same patch of light through the treetops with his analog camera. After work, he goes to the local sento bathhouse for body scrubs, soaks and dinners at the same market stall.

Returning home in the evening, the routine continued, ending with him reading a paperback he’d picked up from a dollar shelf at a bookstore (in one of the many light-hearted humour, the store clerk offered unsolicited comments about his choice of author: “Patricia Highsmith knows everything about anxiety”). When Hirayama turned off the reading light and took off his glasses to bed, he dreamed of black-and-white strings that hinted at a more complicated past life, its fragments filtering through leaves.

There is a light side to Hirayama’s gentle rhythm of the day, which with each repetition reveals subtle differences. His direct interactions with others are always acts of kindness and he treats everyone with equal generosity.

That applies even to the nasty Takashi, who in a comedic scene enlists his senior colleague to help in his frustrated attempt to date the much cooler Amy (Aoi Yamada). The way Amy reacted to Patti Smith’s album, Horseand especially the song “Redondo Beach,” while Takashi barely paying attention to it suggests that she would be out of his reach.

Although Emoto’s performance is a bit broad compared to the restraints of others in the cast, the excitable Takashi shows that not everyone fits smoothly into Hirayama’s orderly world.

When Hirayama’s routine is disrupted and his careful balance is upset, especially when one day he is forced to take on the job of two employees, we feel he rarely Let the angry moments overwhelm you. The sudden appearance of his niece Niko (Arisa Nakano) after an argument with her mother requires some tweaking at first, but the scenes in which he brings her into his workday — reluctantly at first, then fun — are fascinating depictions of the connection of two generations.

The film’s emotional tug-of-war is never obvious, mostly making you almost imperceptible. The main exceptions, when Hirayama’s feelings are revealed, include a private moment between the owner of the restaurant he went to on his day off, called Mama (Sayuri Ishikawa), and her ex-husband (Sayuri Ishikawa). Tomokazu Miura), with whom he later stayed. Share a beer by the river. And meeting her estranged sister Keiko (Yumi Aso) when she comes to take Niko home hints at the affluent life and family frictions left behind by Hirayama, while also evoking feelings of sadness and emotional loss remained in him.

The real reward of perfect dayhowever, is an accumulation of petty details, tenderly observed fragments of life that in themselves seem unimportant. When put together, they form a poetic, deeply moving story of the unexpected peace, harmony and contentment that a man has worked hard and made difficult decisions to make. achieve.

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