Still Walking (Aruitemo Aruitemo) (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/01/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Impressively directed and superbly acted Japanese family drama that has deservedly drawn comparison to the work of Ozu, though non-arthouse devotees might struggle with the lengthy running time, the slow pacing and the seeming lack of plot.

What's it all about?
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Still Walking is a family drama that takes place over a 24 hour period in present-day Japan. Hiroshi Abe stars as freelance art restorer Ryota Yokoyama, who's uncomfortable at the prospect of introducing his wife Yukari (Yui Natsukawa) and his stepson Atsushi (Shohei Tanaka) to his disapproving parents (Kirin Kiki as Toshiko and Yoshio Harada as Kyohei) as they gather for the 15 year anniversary of the death of Ryoto's beloved older brother (and parents' favourite), Junpei.

Additional tensions arrive in the form of Ryoto's sister Chinami (You), her lively children and her feckless husband Nobuo (Kazuya Takahashi), who are angling to move into the family home. As the gathering continues, food is prepared, photos are unearthed and memories are shared but emotional resolution still seems some way off.

The Good
The performances are excellent. Hiroshi Abe strikes exactly the right note of quiet frustration as a man trying not to rock the family boat by refusing to rise to his parents' constant little digs, while also trying to keep his wife and stepson happy. Similarly, Kirin Kiki is superb as Toshiko, who has passive-aggressive behaviour down to a fine art (and is apparently based on Kore-eda's own recently deceased mother), while there's strong support from Natsukawa, Tanaka and You.

This is a film of quiet, unspoken moments that will strike a chord with anyone who's ever sat through a tense family get-together. As such there's a constant thread of suspense that the tensions will explode but Kore-eda's not really interested in dramatic confrontation or emotional resolution, at least not in any way that Hollywood would understand.

The Bad
That said, Kore-eda's apparent resistance to close-ups (the majority of the scenes are in long or medium shots) can be off-putting, in that it makes it harder to engage with the characters. Similarly, the pacing is deliberately slow and the lengthy running time and lack of plot may test the patience of non-arthouse devotees.

Worth seeing?
Still Walking is a well made, superbly acted family drama that's definitely worth seeing, though it won't appeal to everyone.

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Content updated: 17/10/2017 10:51

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