Hirokazu Koreeda has ventured into the neighborhood of the great Yasujiro Ozu before, but now he settles in comfortably. Although Maborosi (1995) and Nobody Knows (2004) are magnificent family dramas, both bore the footprint of Koreeda’s early documentary work.
Still Walking, on the other hand, shares DNA with Ozu’s legendary Tokyo Story. Here, it’s the grown children (Hiroshi Abe and You) of an elderly couple (Yoshio Harada and the exceptional Kiri Kirin) who do the visiting, to commemorate the death of their eldest brother, who drowned while saving a local boy.
Even within the film’s 24-hour time frame, it’s apparent that the tragedy has shaped the family for the past 15 years. As opposed to Ozu’s haiku-like dialogue, Koreeda’s exchanges unfold with an everyday homeliness; he subtly reveals seething resentments and regrets while never losing sight of his characters’ fallible humanity.