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maryann johanson, not crying

Still Walking (review)

Now comes that moment in the year-end craziness when I’m catching up with some of what I missed during the year, and the insanity of all the moviewatching slows down to a beautiful slo-mo crawl, when a movie that I cannot believe somehow got past me earlier suddenly feels like a big, deep, relaxing cinematic breath of fresh air and wonder and loveliness. This deceptively simple family drama touched me like that. Taking place over the course of a single day (except for the brief coda) is writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (Nobody Knows) ode to family in all its dysfunctions (which he actually renders sort of magnificent in how they define a family), its secrets (which he doles out with such sharp quietude that they come more as sighs of relief than startling shocks), and the complications and trials of its love. It is the annual gathering of the Yokoyamas to remember eldest son Junpei, who died years earlier, and everyone is full of open regrets, clandestine worries, and just the tough business of accepting that no one, not even those closest to you, can be all you need them to be for you. Adult children fail elderly parents and vice versa, while the next generation of little ones learn how to navigate the minefield that is this web of disappointments. If it sounds like a bummer, well, the magic of Kore-eda is that he makes it all feel like home in a way that transcends culture. You don’t have to be Japanese to see what’s going on here, or to feel the deep thrumming sense of universality to it. (available on IFC on Demand)

MPAA: not rated

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