Customer Reviews: Still Walking (The Criterion Collection)
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Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda has made some terrific, understated dramas. Emotional, heartfelt, and real--Kore-eda's films capture true moments without ever descending into theatrics, melodrama, or false sentimentality. His "Nobody Knows," a decidedly bleak story of child abandonment, might have been a very different and over-the-top horror show had Kore-eda not nailed it with a quiet intensity and remarkable realism. But as much as I admired "Nobody Knows," and "After Life" for that matter, I think that my personal favorite is "Still Walking." And I'm thrilled that this understated gem is getting the Criterion stamp so more people will experience this lovely film. Perhaps the most realistic and intimate portrait of a family gathering ever put on film, "Still Walking" perfectly captures all the nuances that make families tick. Tender, funny, frustrating--all the love and obligations that bring people together share space with the disappointments and misunderstandings that drive them apart.

This is not a plot focused narrative, but rather a character driven sociological examination of a typical family unit. Marking the anniversary of the death of their son, a elderly couple are joined by their other grown children for an annual ritual of respect. Their daughter, with whom they share a close relationship, is on hand to assist in the preparations with her husband and two children. But much of the event centers around the return of the other son (Ryota) accompanied by his new wife and stepson. Ryota is a wayward soul who has lived in the shadow of his dead brother and he dreads these visits home. Much of the movie takes place over cooking or over dining with shared jokes, reminiscences, and familial banter. But even as the participants fall into their usual roles, they have evolved as well and must adopt to the subtle differences that the years bring.

The terrific screenplay is so amazingly real--I truly felt as if I were eavesdropping on an actual family get-together. Funny and thoughtful, "Still Walking" strikes a perfect balance. Hiroshi Abe is spot-on as Ryota, perhaps the most demanding role. Ryota's complicated relationship with his stubborn father provides the most intense drama. But everyone is so good and believable here--from the sweet but scattered mother to the chatty accommodating sister to the peacemaker new wife. It's a lovely ensemble. I was thoroughly captivated by "Still Walking." If I had one negative, and it's a slight one, the film misses a natural conclusion and adds a scene that (while sweet) seemed a beat too much.

The film gets a new high def digital transfer as well as new interviews with Kore-eda and the director of photography. There's also a "making of" featurette. But, in an inspired bit of whimsy, recipes from the food in the film are included in the traditional Criterion essay booklet. It's an unusual, but fitting, homage to the film as the meals are the core of any gathering! No joke, though, I went into this film with absolutely no preconceived notions and I loved it. If you like intimate, well scripted, family drama--I hope you will too! KGHarris, 12/10.
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on November 25, 2010
Many elements that are supposed to be in a good movie aren't here ... nothing happens, no one changes, life remains the same for all the characters. And yet ... this movie is brilliant. It is one day in the life (with a brief epilogue) of a family that's not much different from any other family -- Japanese or otherwise. There are no big, dramatic moments, things are revealed elliptically -- it might seem slow moving at first, but one soon adapts to its pace. If you liked Kore-eda's previous films, I guarantee you'll like this one.
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on February 28, 2011
I really enjoyed this movie for what is was; a slice of ordinary life. This is a film whose story is told in the quiet moments of life, a film in which you must read in between the lines to fully understand. If you aren't in a contemplative mood it may be a little slow at times, but upon reflection the pace of the movie mirrors the type of family life being depicted perfectly.

I will admit, for much of the film I found myself enjoying it...yet in the back of my mind, wishing for some sort of major conflict or plot point to spice things up. That being said, I don't think that would have been appropriate and would have cheapened the deeper story being softly told in the film. The theme which is related mostly to family, loss, and ageing is best told in the gracefully slow and meditative manner in which this film presents it. Again, I must make a point to recommend watching this movie when you are in a contemplative mood, as you will get much more out of it in that state.

This is a perfect example of film as anti-escapism. Certain people watch movies to get their minds off of life...Hollywood blockbusters which focus more on special effects than character development are a perfect example of this. The idea is to 'shut off your mind and have a good time'...and there's nothing wrong with that. However, I find a film which speaks to the deeper issues in life infinitely more valuable. Still Walking is such a grows better and better upon reflection.

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on June 2, 2011
This is a modern version of Ozu's Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection). If you haven't watched that old film, it is a family drama, in which grown-up children come back to visit their parents. "Still Walking" has exactly the same theme. It is an absolutely brilliant film if you are interested in this kind of film. I liked the film because it deals with expressed emotions, interpreted emotions, and true emotions. First thing to note is that it is very difficult to read the true emotions based on the expressed emotions. Second thing to note is that the Japanese have trouble interpreting the emotions of the other people as well. So it is not just a Westerner which have trouble with this. Even though, naturally, it doesn't get any easier if you don't know the culture. I'm not going to say more about the film. Just buy it and watch it.
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on March 15, 2011
Seemingly inspired by Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story", this film is masterfully written, directed, photographed, and acted.

The audience is a witness to a very simple gathering of a family to commemorate a brother and son's untimely death.
It is minimalistic in its direction and yet acutely aware of its details. Dialogue flows effortlessly as if it were never scripted. The characters' emotions are held behind Japanese culture of modesty and humility. The characters are petty, silly, begrudging, and sad. They struggle with emotions that are universal to all families.

The pacing is perfect but some may find it slow. This isn't a hollywood movie. There are no fights, no blood, no gore, no profanity and no sex. Audiences are free to interpret their emotional reactions and never feel like your being manipulated. We don't see a build of emotion and a final cathartic explosion that leads to a happy ending. It's much more realistic than our usual main-stream family drama fare. Some scenes can make one viewer sad while another might smile wistfully.

It is beautiful in its honesty and poignant while remaining unpretentious.

The best way I can describe the emotions this film evoked was the bunched-up-throat feeling you get when you hold back your tears. It's like crying through a smile.

The film is utterly entrancing in it's simple complexity of human emotion, relationships and memories. The beautiful cinematography, the human characters and the soft and simple musical score wove a spell around me and didn't let go.

"Still Walking" is a mesmerizing visual poem.
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on March 22, 2012
This Criterion Collection movie, from the time I opened the package, I knew would be a unique experience when I was treated to a booklet giving inside information on the director and others involved in creating this jewel. The movie begins with the sounds of the chopping of vegetables for a dish the mother is preparing. This intrigued me right from the "git-go." I was mesmerized by every aspect of this movie, from the visual feast aspect of it, to the sensitive portrayal of all the members of this disfunctional, but somehow normal, family. As an added bonus, the recipes for the different dishes are included in the booklet. After watching them being prepared I found myself excited to know I would be able to duplicate them. This movie lingers in one's mind long after viewing. I would recommend it in a heartbeat.
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VINE VOICEon August 8, 2012
There are some films that say a whole lot while remaining, for the most part, silent. `Still Walking' is one of those films, for it remains quiet throughout, exploring subtlety as a key plot devise in order to hit us where it counts in moments we don't see coming. In fact, about halfway through I was becoming almost inpatient in my wonderment as to where exactly this film was going, but when it gets there it GETS THERE. I think that is much of the beauty in `Still Walking'. It doesn't come out and say anything and yet when the film concludes you are left with so much to ponder that the eventual conclusions drawn are deeper and more fulfilling than if the film had made it a point to beat us over the head with `their' observations.

`Still Walking' takes place over a single weekend where a family gets together to mourn the anniversary of the death of the Yokoyama's eldest son. The parents are obviously consumed with the deepest grief, twelve years after the accident, and their remaining children (they have a surviving son and daughter) are left to pick up the pieces. Their daughter seems ready to move right in with her family and take over, in a seemingly selfish and possibly self-gratifying way, but their son, Ryota, seems almost repulsed by his parents. Having married a widow (who has a young son), his marriage isn't necessarily accepted by his parents and he feels distanced from them and their constant cleaving to memories better left alone. Over the course of lunch and dinner and conversations, the Yokoyama family secrets are revealed with such touching detail that one is completely consumed with the storytelling and the development.

And MY GOD does Kirin Kiki deliver one of the finest performances I've seen in a long time. The way she handles her two big scenes (her confession of her pain and the butterfly scene) are so heartbreaking and sincere. It's a powerhouse performance that underscores each emotion with that needed touch of authenticity. The rest of the cast, especially Yoshio Harada, are also on the top of their games here.

With vivid writing that reaches the soul and acute attention to detail, `Still Walking' is still moving, time after time after time.
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on March 13, 2016
This dvd was a wonderful delight for me and my family. If you are a true Japanophile, you MUST get this dvd. You will learn more about a typical Japanese family with this dvd than any other. It's a beautiful film on the experiences of a typical family that you can relate to no matter what country you are from. We will cherish this dvd FOREVER.
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on July 14, 2016
This is one of my all-time favorite Japanese drama films - the only one I like better is "Tokyo Sonata". I have watched this at least 4 or 5 times now, and I never tire of it - it is a wonderful "slice-of-life" film, and Hiroshi Abe is wonderful in it - the entire cast is amazing. You feel as though you are a part of this family, complete with all of their quirks and misunderstandings. Fantastic movie!!
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on December 1, 2015
This movie is a real gem. A simple story about a day in the life of a family commemorating the death of a son. Nothing extravagant or loud happens but you come away deeply affected. Koreeda is a master of small gestures and invisible moments, marginalia that gets swept away in the rush of life. Koreeda polishes these moments and makes them shine. Lyrical and poignant, the movie lingers in the mind long after it's done.
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