Our Little SisterCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister paints a family portrait focusing on four sisters living together in their grandmother’s house. Abandoned by their parents at a young age, the three eldest girls are left to fend for themselves and 15 years later learn of the death of their father. At his funeral they meet their half sister and decide to take her into their home. Everything initially seems to go well, but as time passes underlying tensions are revealed and the sisters are forced to face up to the complexities of their family’s past.
Set predominantly in Kamakura, a seaside city in the east of Japan, the film is grounded by Japanese culture and values, and that is where most of its charm lies. Food and meal times are central to life for the sisters, and a great importance is placed on annual traditions and the unwritten code of respect played out at special occasions. The naturalistic, contemplative style of filmmaking, typical of Kore-eda, perfectly accentuates these very basic elements of everyday life in Japan. Complete with stunning scenic shots, fade-out scenes and an airy flute and piano-based score, the film is very much the classic Japanese drama.
No mind-blowing dramatic events occur – the narrative instead trickles along, little by little revealing the problems hiding behind the smiles and the idyllic settings. The story is deeply profound yet distinctly normal, gracefully unravelling in a meticulous exploration of the lives and relationships of four very different young women. Heartfelt and very real, Our Little Sister is a must-watch this spring.
Our Little Sister is released in selected cinemas on 15th April 2016.
Watch the trailer for Our Little Sister here: