Did the ladies of the Brussels film club CinéFemme purposely choose to screen the sneak preview of Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo is the original Japanese title) on Mother's Day? If so, good on them, though the film is more an ode to family than just to mothers. Here is what director Kore-Eda Hirokazu says of his inspiration for making the film:
It's worth reading the rest of his Director's Statement on the film's official site (image at left). Be sure to have the sound on for a taste of the delicately beautiful soundtrack.
Quintessentially Japanese, but also universal, Still Walking is a couple of hours which represent 24 hours in an extended family's life. Grandparents, middle-aged children, and grandchildren spend a good amount of the time enjoying Grandma's cooking. But Tampopo this is not. It's much more akin to Un dimanche à la campagne (A Sunday In the Country) by Bertrand Tavernier.
We all know that family reunions can be stressful, and the Yokoyama family's anniversary for a missing member is no different. You don't choose your family, and they don't choose their in-laws, and what do you have in common after all these years apart anyway?
Actually, for those who fear having to keep up with subtitles, dialogue is minimal, and often the silences are equally eloquent. Though this is in an ordinary house in a pleasant seaside town and not a cramped Tokyo salary man's apartment, the occidental viewer does come away with an appreciation of our more generous interior spaces.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times had this to say of Still Walking at last year's Toronto Film Festival:
Well, that's absolutely right. Watch Still Walking, learn a bit about ordinary lives in Japan, come to care about the Yokoyama family, and appreciate what family you have - for they (nor you and me) will not last forever.