Still Walking (2008)


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Original Title: Aruitemo, Aruitemo (歩いても 歩いても)
Directed and Written  by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, You, Yui Natsukawa
Music by: Gontiti
Running Time: 114 mins. 
Release Date: June 2008 (Japan) /August 2009 (US)
Language: Japanese
Tomato Meter: 100% (Critics) | 88% (Audience)
IMDB Rating: 7.9/10 
Chocometer: 9.1 chocolates

Not your ordinary family melodrama. 

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Still Walking (2009) is a wonderful masterpiece from Hirokazu Kore-eda about the events that transpired in one whole summer day as the Yokoyama family reunites to commemorate the death of the eldest son who passed away 15 years ago. 

It is a mirror of the dynamics between ordinary family members and the embedded flaws revealed from the snippets of conversation that occur all throughout the film. There's no huge arguments that escalated from the strained relationship of each family member. The confrontations are done in a natural manner, wherein instead of resorting to a major fallout, the tension is just exhibited in  uncomfortable exchanges that last for a fraction of a second and immediately broken by awkward attempts to change the subject and ignore the issue.  No overly exaggerated drama. No shouting. Nothing of that sort. It's just your typical day-to-day life projected on the big screen and it pulls you slowly and slowly until you realize that you and the characters are one and the same.  The characters are so diverse that it is impossible for the viewers not to relate to at least one of them.

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You have the old  and retired patriarch Kyohei who is too proud and cold that he does not even care about how his gripe is affecting the family. He cannot move on with the death of his favorite son, Junpei, fifteen years ago, and this causes a strain between him and the youngest son, Ryota. Ryota, the frustrated and insecure art restorer is most affected by his brother's death that he can't even let himself visit his parents often and tries as much as possible to stay away from them. He has married the widow Yukari who has a son named Atsushi. The three of them were forced to visit Ryota's parents for Junpei's 15th death anniversary. Chinami, the middle child, is a cheerful mother of two who plans to move to her parents house with her husband Nobuo. She tries to ease the tension between the characters despite the chilly atmosphere that floats around the house.Another important character in the movie is the matriarch Toshiko, who may seem caring and warm at first, but is revealed to be despiteous towards Yoshio, the boy that her son saved 15-years ago. 

The beauty of the movie lies on the fact that it is too close to home. It is too understated and simplistic but is careful not to cross the boundaries of catatonia. It is the poignant depiction of life, how we try to struggle to keep afloat despite the changing times; how we try to live and go on because time will never stop for us; how the wheels of existence keep on turning as we are put to alternating roles that were once seem unfamiliar to us. Moreover, it is a film about family ties; how we take for granted the smallest and simplest things and how we are reduced to words and promises that we never really keep. 

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The last ten minutes of the story is the true gem of the film. It seems to piece everything together and also contrasts the bitter reality that we have to face. The exchanges between the younger Yokoyama couple and their older counterparts are strikingly familiar to our generation. How the older ones yearn for more visits from their children and how the children resolves to avoid visiting their parents. It is a harsh reality but it is undeniably built on a solid foundation that we are well acquainted of. Ryota's recounting of  not being able to see the soccer game with his father, never really being able to let his mother ride his car to go shopping and seemingly being too late for almost everything. It is not remorse. It is done in a matter-of-factly way that is too unnerving to really reflect on. 

Again, Kore-eda has added another jewel to Japan's pride. Still Walking is part of my highly recommended list. It is not cathartic. It is not a feel-good movie. It is just a movie about life and the real meaning of our existence and funnily enough, it is a wonderful thing to behold. 

The trailer of Still Walking (2008)

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