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Still Walking (2009)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

In Still Walking, we are treated to an excellent, deliberately paced, progressively revealed journey through a day with a Japanese family. The characters, through their own words and through the things said about them, bring out a complex web of relational expectations, love, flaws, disappointments, and hopes. Mixing good food, fun conversation, apprehensive anticipation, sudden revelation, quiet reflection, painful remembrance, careful avoidance, hopeful planning, and more, the film embodies a multitude of emotions that engage us and, through pain and hope, might reconnect us to relationships and life. Watching Still Walking is time very well spent, particularly when it’s time to slow down and, from a new vantage point, reflect on the relationships in our own lives.

Compared to the English title, I’m told that the Japanese title for the film, Aruitemo aruitemo, carries a stronger connotation of a continuous cycle of always walking, always traveling. Perhaps the English phrase “forever walking” might capture this better, except that it carries little hope. In the film, hope comes through not so much as a surface element, as though the characters will find relational reconciliation, but rather in that the film encourages us to long for — and act toward — relational reconciliations of our own. Still Walking’s filmcraft is outstanding, from the screenplay to the acting to the pacing of the film and the framing of shots — there is much to admire.

The Yokoyama family gather for a day together. As we join them, the father, a retired physician, goes out for a walk. The daughter chats with the mother as they prepare the meal, while her husband and children are outside playing. The son, Ryoto, along with his wife and child, is traveling home by train. Given the distance, the plan is for Ryoto and his family to stay the night. He is reluctant to spend that much time at home, but his wife convinces him that it is the right thing to do. Gradually, we come to understand why they’ve gathered. We also see their interactions slowly bring out a number of long-standing personal and family issues and, from Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Japanese viewpoint, we receive a universal portrait of family pain and hope. Running time: 114 min.

The relational issues that the family discusses include death and infidelity.

  • Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Screenplay: Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Leads: Hiroshi Abe, Yui Natsukawa, You, Kazuya Takahashi, Shohei Tanaka, Kirin Kiki, Yoshio Harada
  • Cinematography: Yutaka Yamasaki
  • Music: Gonchichi

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