Thursday, September 22, 2016

[Review] Our Little Sister

The ever-consistent Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda follows up Like Father, Like Son with Our Little Sister, another sweet and low-key tale of complicated familial dynamics.

Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino Kouda (Masami Nagasawa), Chika (Kaho) are three sisters living together in their grandparents' home. Early on, they learn that their estranged, runaway father has passed away. So they travel to the funeral with no real strong feelings, but in the process, they meet and befriend their 14-year-old half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose) and all of their lives are changed.

Given the premise, and the fact that this is a film that begins with a funeral and ends with a funeral, it's not as melodramatic as you might expect. There's a light tone of gaiety with some gentle humor mixed in. But it is still very meditative and observational, as the (now four) sisters reflect on their father's life and what they know about him, while also attempting to fill in the blanks for what they don't know about him. Inherent rifts subtly rise to the surface as new information is revealed, and as the siblings attempt to reconcile the conflicts regarding their different mothers.

Along with all the great performances, the film is crisply shot and impeccably framed, displaying some beautiful changing-of-seasons scenery--especially the views of white Spring blossoms and colorful falling Autumn leaves. It's also backed with an elegant, moving musical score. A few scenes float by where it seems like not much is happening (the small talk effect), and that can be a bit trying over the film's two-hour plus length. That said, we feel like we really know these people by the end.

At its heart, Our Little Sister is a patient and touching portrait of sisterly bonds.

( 7.5/10 )

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