Dec. 3: Our Little Sister
Japanese with English subtitles 128 minutes
Principal Cast: Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, Suzu Hirose
After their estranged father’s death, three twentysomething sisters discover that they have a teenaged step-sibling, in this gentle, deeply affecting family drama from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son).
The three Koda sisters have been on their own ever since their parents’ divorce, their mother having moved away shortly after her husband left her for another woman. Now in their twenties, the sisters still live together in the house that once belonged to their grand- mother. The eldest sister, Sachi (Haruka Ayase), the de facto head of the family, works as a nurse; the middle child, Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa, From Up on Poppy Hill), has a suc- cessful career at a bank; while the youngest, Chika (Kaho), is a fashionable, fun-loving free spirit. When they receive news of their father’s death, the sisters are surprised to discover that they have a step-sibling, the 13-year-old Suzu (Suzu Hirose), who grate- fully accepts her elder sisters’ offer to come live with them. The presence of the shy young Suzu, for whom the loss of her father is still a fresh wound, stirs long-dormant memories among the three sisters, who had thought of their father (if they thought of him at all) as a phantom. And the painful past becomes fully present once more when the women’s mother suddenly reappears after 15 years.
Our Little Sister is a subtle meditation on loss, absence, and the acceptance of death. Carrying on a great tradition of Japanese filmmaking, Kore-eda once again transforms everyday life into a deceptively simple yet truly majestic masterpiece.
The film is quiet, understated and gentle, allowing the audience to take pleasure in teasing out its narrative subtleties, and presented with wonderful freshness and clarity... It is impossible not to be touched and beguiled by it. —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian