Ryota Nonomiya is a successful businessman driven by money. When he learns that his biological son was switched with another child after birth, he must make a life-changing decision and choose his true son or the boy he raised as his own.
Twelve-year-old Koichi, who has been separated from his brother Ryunosuke due to his parents' divorce, hears a rumor that the new bullet trains will precipitate a wish-granting miracle when they pass each other at top speed.
Members of a cult, modeled on Aum Shinrikyo, sabotage a city's water supply, then commit mass suicide near the shores of a lake. Family members of those affected by it meet at the lake to observe the anniversary of their loved ones' deaths.
Still Walking is a family drama about grown children visiting their elderly parents, which unfolds over one summer day. The aging parents have lived in the family home for decades. Their son and daughter return for a rare family reunion, bringing their own families with them. They have gathered to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son, who drowned in an accident fifteen years ago. Although the roomy house is as comforting and unchanging as the mother's homemade feast, everyone in the family has subtly changed. Written by
The Film Catalogue
I very much enjoyed Nobody Knows (Dare Mo Shiranai) and After Life (Wonderful Life) immensely and found another good and engaging movie with Still Walking. Kore Eda seems to be in a small group of directors who use minimal music and other traditional movie elements in order to convey the story to the viewer. Just as talking in a low voice will elicit the heightened command of a listener, so too does Kore Eda use subtle dialogue and action to focus the viewers attention to what's going on.
I can totally relate to the family in Still Walking because they come across as anyone's family. Literally. I felt as though I could have been watching my own family and not some Japanese family to whom I could not relate. All the elements are there from the big-city adult children coming to visit their small-town parents with their children en tow. The interplay between the fast pace of urban life and slow pace of rural life meet somewhere in the middle. Throughout, I felt as I usually do in a Kore Eda movie: a silent and invisible observer.
The premise of the movie is that the family gathers together once a year on the anniversary of the death of the eldest son who we learn had drowned saving the life of another person who himself was attempting to commit suicide by drowning in the sea. As you may know, in Japanese society, if you save the life of someone who wishes to commit suicide, you effectively are responsible for their life going forward. In this case, the person doing the saving, the eldest son, had died in the process. So we see the person who he saved return year after year to be reminded in an indebted but somewhat cruel manner that he is alive and that he will be, for the rest of the parent's of deceased lives, be required to suffer the (cultural) humility of "being alive" while their son is dead.
We also see the typical social dilemma of what to do as ones aging parents and additional interplay between the surviving son and his new, but widowed, wife and her child. We've seen the transaction a million times in other movies: mother in law has her comments and opinions, wife complains to the husband about her and her son's treatment, son has to either stand up to the parents or find some middle ground.
All in all, it's well played out and I was very pleased by this film. It's an amalgam of growth, change, sacrifice, forgiveness, and the road we all have to travel as we get older or if we have children ourselves. Oddly though, the film's title doesn't make sense until near the end of the movie.
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