Our Little Sister is a quiet, unassuming film. It’s also quietly beautiful. Director Hirokazu Koreeda uses this story of four sisters to spin out a much larger reflection on the nature of human relationships. Of course, it’s only later that you’ll come to realize that. In the moment, everything is smooth and gentle and soothing, even when everything is in turmoil.
I promise, the trailer does a much better job of communicating the vibe than I just did. Give it a watch, we’ll catch up on the other side.
We meet Sachi (beautifully portrayed by Haruka Ayase) — the eldest and most serious, Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) — the middle child with a flair for drama and Chika (Kaho) — the free-spirited baby, as they grapple with which of them should travel to a funeral service for the father. He’s a man who has been absent from their lives for 15 years after leaving the family home to be with a different woman, who gave way to yet another woman following her own death. This glimpse into their world tells us much about the women themselves, but also the uncertainty around who and what they should be to their young half-sister, Suzu (Suzu Hirose is a captivating turn). As a foreign viewer, the context was invaluable, though it also gently reminded me how inexpert I am in Asian cinema.
Japanese cultural expert I am not in the slightest, but I am a seasoned movie watcher, so I like to think I know sound storytelling and performances when I see them. Our Little Sister has both.
All of the emotion, acknowledged and unacknowledged flows off the screen confidently. And the world in which our characters live is nearly as dynamic as they are. The local diner owner and the youth soccer team feel as established as our main characters, perhaps because they are so central to the lives of Suzu and her sisters.
Our Little Sister is a beautifully shot, well-acted and relentlessly sweet story about the bonds of family and the tides of life and human relationships and happiness.
Image courtesy: Sony Pictures Classics