Our Little Sister Review
Hirokazu Koreeda has a certain kind of knack for the family drama. His previous two films I Wish and Like Father, Like Son have shown that the director has a way of bringing out the sweet, funny, and most purely human moments of family life, even in hard situations. Both of those films focussed on male-male relationships; brothers and fathers and sons. Now Koreeda brings his eyes to a very female dynamic, that of a group of sisters.
Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika are adult sisters living in their grandmother’s house. Their father, who abandoned the family years previously, has died and the three attend his funeral. There they meet for the first time their teenaged half-sister Suzu and invite her to live with them.
There are some films that are low on plot, but big on story. They may not have the most compelling narrative or sense of drama, but you keep watching them simply because of the world of the film and the characters you get to meet. There may not be any major plot twists or high tension situations in Our Little Sister, or Umimachi Diary to give the film its original title from the manga on which it is based, but you come to care about the sisters that you simply enjoy being in their company as you share with them the ups and downs of their life together. It has so many of those little moments little soft and sweet moments that make up life whilst never feeling manipulative or overly saccharine. The film is just simply joyful and nice to watch, never feeling long or boring despite the running time, and I found that the only times that I wasn’t smiling were the few that I was crying.
The relationship between the sisters is so concrete and believable. They bicker, they joke, and they’re just a normal family. A lot of the inter-actions between them are based around the family alter or particularly around food; eating is a very connecting and social event in this film for everyone we see. That connection is something that is made with the audience too, drawing us in.
The real strength of the film is that it says so much with so little. Everything going on in each of the sisters’ lives, especially the quiet and slightly reserved young Suzu, played wonderfully by Suzu Hirose, is done with light touch that nevertheless gets across every emotion both good and bad. The film is beautifully shot, with a kind of haze to the cinematography that adds to the soft but delightful style.
Whilst it may not be one of the widest releases out at the moment Our Little Sister is wonder and a joy that I simply loved and is worth tracking down.