Our little sister (Umimachi)

Our little sister is adapted from the popular Japanese manga comic book series Umimachi diary. This is the story of the three Kōda sisters. Sachi (Haruka Ayase) is 29 years old and works as a nurse in a hospital. 22 Years old Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) works in a bank. Chika (Kaho) is 19 years old and works in a sport articles store. They all live together in the family home in Kamakura. One day, they get the news of their father’s death. Years ago, he divorced their mother to marry another woman. At the funeral they meet their half-sister, 13 years old Suzu Asano (Suzu Hirose) for the first time. They create such a bond with Suzu, that it is decided that she is coming to live with them in Kamakura. The rest of the film is very episodic as it chronicles their daily lives. It is easy for Suzu to make friends in her new school and she is a great soccer player. She often rides on the back of a bicycle with a young boy (her first boyfriend?) from her class. Sachi has an affair with a married who gets a job promotion to Boston and he wants her to come with him. Yoshino becomes one of the loan officer at the bank. And they eat. I mean a lot. They eat at home at the family table, at restaurants. They either eat, cook and prepare food or talk about food. At their grandmother’s funeral the three sister get an unexpected visitor. The mother who abandoned them after the divorce. There is a lot of resentments, especially from the eldest, Sachi, who was left alone to raise her sisters. Director Hirokazu Koreeda has carefully woven an intimate and delicate film that is as powerful for its portrayal of the four female characters, has it is for its aesthetics. The four actresses are careful not to evercome each other. This is ensemble acting at its best. Yoko Kanno’s piano and string score is sparse but effective. You don’t always pay attention to Mikiya Takimoto’s cinematography because most of the scenes take place in naturalistic settings: the sister’s walk on a beach or a country road, Sachi and her mother walking with umbrellas under a slight rain. The most beautiful scene has Suzu and her boyfriend riding the bike one sunny day. On both side of the road are cherry blossom trees with pink and white petals. The music soars as the camera zooms in on Suzu’s smiling, happy face. Our little sister is a bit slow at times, and, like a lot of Japanese films, it is too long. But otherwise, I highly recommend it.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Our little sister (Umimachi)

Directed by:

Hirokazu Koreeda

Screenplay by:

Hirokazu Koreeda

Based on Umimachi diary by Akimi Yoshida

Starring:

Haruka Ayase

Masami Nagasawa

Kaho

Suzu Hirose

128 min.

Rated Parental Guidance.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

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