Having already been written off by a number of critics, Wim Wenders is back in Cannes with a vengeance. This year, the 77-year-old presented not one, but two masterstrokes at the Côte d’Azur: 3D documentary Anselm and the narrative Competition title Perfect Days.
With 1984 Palme d’Or winner Paris, Texas – to this day widely regarded as one of the best films about rural America – the German auteur proved that sometimes an outsider’s eye can capture particularly poignant realities about a locale. In a similarly unprejudiced manner, and with the natural curiosity of an anthropologist, Wenders now approaches the topic of solitude in the world’s largest city in his latest work.
Hirayama (Best Actor winner Kōji Yakusho) cleans Tokyo’s public toilets for a living. Others may look down on his profession, but he takes pride in being able to do something with dedication and care. On his way to work, he enjoys playing music tapes in his car, during his lunch break, he tries to snap the perfect picture of the light falling through the tall treetops, and every now and again, he picks up a new read at a used bookstore.
Unobtrusively, Perfect Days accompanies the quotidian actions of someone modest and content in a thankless job. His manual labour is treated with the utmost dignity, as is the art he takes pleasure in and that rounds out his personal life. The songs, that range from House of the Rising Sun (including a Japanese karaoke version) to the eponymous Lou Reed ballad, play a diegetic role, but in equal measure inform much of the feature’s tone and atmosphere.
Yakusho displays extraordinary skill in communicating with his eyes and facial features, as his character’s interactions with other people are limited on the one hand, and when they occur, Hirayama is rather taciturn.
Sincere in its emotions, Perfect Days is a breathtaking character study of a previously unsung hero – the bringing of handkerchiefs is recommended.
Perfect Days does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Perfect Days here: