By Cécile D
Sachi, Chika and Yoshino Koda are three siblings living by the seaside near Kamakura (Kanagawa Prefecture). Sachi, the eldest, is a nurse deeply committed to her work in the local hospital who loves bossing around her younger sisters. Yoshino is trying to find her way out of her entangled love life with underserving men. Chika is romantically involved with her boss who runs a mountain climbing equipment shop. Despite living in what they call the “family home”, their family has long vanished away: their father had an affair a few years ago and left while their mother moved to Sapporo.
Therefore, when their father dies, the three sisters hardly expect anything good. But he has left them a surprise in the shape of a fifteen-year old sister, Suzu. Intrigued yet willing to care for her, Sachi, Chika and Yoshino invite her to live with them. Sachi has taken charge of her younger siblings ever since and sees it as her duty to welcome Suzu who is longing to e part of a real family.
Their life together begins, with some up and down, the beginning of Suzu’s love life and her going through mourning like her new stepsisters. Each sister has different feelings for their parents and while Sachi is very angry about their mother’s attitude, Chika and Yoshino try keeping some relationship with her. Their relationships all together is explored and we can see how someone so totally unconnected to them at first can become their most precious gift from their father.
The movie is quite inspiring even though it may seems really idealistic. Welcoming a younger and practically unknown young sister is not as easy and smooth as the movie would have us think it is. Moreover, even though this is not the main point of the movie maker, we can regret that women’ role in society is still the dominated one, this being seen through Sachi’s and Yoshino’s love life with not so committed men. However strong and independent they are, they seem to remain under the authority of men and it is only towards the end that they can free themselves from this domination. Also, the mourning is not mentioned very often, leading us to believe that the sisters are untouched by the death of their father. It seems that they do care but we never see it despite the fact of this being the most interesting part of the scenario. We would like to see more of this process, especially as Japanese rites are relatively unknown to Europeans.
The movie despite these weaknesses is a drop of happiness in our everyday life. Seeing these four young women creating a home together despite the past seems impossible but it feels like nothing is impossible in Japan. It feels good to see Kamakura, the beach, the sand and the light blue water. Somehow this movie is a dream, full of joyful memories of last summer. We can catch some glimpses of everyday Japanese life through Sachi ‘s and Yoshino’s jobs: paying off debts, running a restaurant… but this is not the main reason why you should see the movie. The overall feeling of a sunny happy day is making the film worthwhile and enjoyable despite being long and rather slow. It makes us want to go to Japan right away to live this ourselves and to experience this-dream like life!
Filmmaker: Koreeda Hirozaku: known in France for his previous movie Without memory (1994) and I wish (2012).
Sachi: Ayase Haruka: very famous in Japan for the TV series Yae no Sakura (2013) . She is also playing in the ongoing series Kyou kaisha wo yasumimasu.
Yoshino: Nagasawa Masami: mainly known for Our little sister in Europe, she is a very popular star in Japan, famous for her roles in dramas (like Dragon Zakura or Wagaya no Rekishi).
Chika: Kaho: known for her role in A gentle breeze in the village (2007) adapted from the manga Tenen kokeko.
Suzu Asano: Suzu Hirose : mainly known outside Japan for her role in Our little sister.