Written and Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Yio Natsukawa, Shohei Tanaka, Hiroshi Abe, Yoshio Harada, Kirin Kiki
It always makes my day to open up a package with a film from the Criterion Collection that I haven’t experienced yet. Already a fan of director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (After Life, Nobody Knows) work, I had high hopes as I opened the amaray case…..
The Yokoyama family has gathered to commemorate the passing of Ryota’s older brother Junpei. Junpei died 15 years earlier. Everyone is together, parents, brother, sister, spouses and children.
The senior member of the family, the father (Yoshio Harada) is a mercurial retired doctor who seems generally displeased with everyone. Everyone except Junpei, who seemingly did no wrong, is his lifetime. But the other Yokoyama children are a disappointment to dear old dad.
The father wanted his sons to be a physician, like himself. However, one passed away and the other Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) restores paintings for a living. The father and son feel as though they are unconnected and have nothing in common. But, like in many families, if the two would open up to each other, they would soon find out this is not true.
It seems that dear old Dad sets the tone in the house. He slights almost everyone present in a variety of ways and bickers constantly with his long suffering wife.
The uneasy undercurrent of stress that occurs in just about everyone’s family when everyone gathers for a special occasion is achingly well observed in this family drama. When you observe the Yokoyama clan, tell me that it doesn’t feel like something that has happened within your own family.
This isn’t a movie where a lot happens. Rather, the audience experiences the characters in two ways: what is said and done and secondly, what is buried just beneath the surface. Sometimes the silences and pauses scream loudly what a character really feels.
I was often reminded of the masterful Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s films often during Still Walking. Ozu (1903-1963) was known for a distinctive technical style. Marriage and family, especially the relationships between the generations, are among the most persistent themes in his body of work. I encourage you to check out his films, especially if you enjoy Still Walking.
I digress. The title of the film, in my opinion, has a deeper meaning than just a reference to the pop song by the same name that is played during the film. It also means that the family itself is “still walking”: everyday still moving forward, away from the pain of losing Junpei and still trying with communicate each other despite the feelings of melancholy that each and every family member shares.
Still Walking is a dvd that belongs on the shelf of any Japanese film fan.
The film is presented in 1080p anamorphic widescreen. There are no blemishes or artifacts. The contrast level is respectable and the color palette is admirably vibrant. The black levels are pitch-black and the overall transfer is first rate.
The film is presented in 2.0 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound is lively and vibrant and surprisingly well mixed considering it is offered in 2.0, rather than 5.1. The dialogue is crystal clear throughout.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The films are presented in a standard blu ray amaray case encased in a cardboard slipcase with a suitably subtle artwork on the cover.
There is a nice array of bonus features to explore on this release. The Making of Still Walking is a 28 minute documentary full of footage from the set and interviews with the cast.
An interview with the director and another with the cinematographer is offered.
The interior booklet that is included has a lot of great material to explore. There are photos, and essay by film critic Dennis Lim and also several recipes of the food featured in the film.
And finally the original theatrical trailer for the film. Overall, another great job by Criterion.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Film 10/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 9/10