The official synopsis of Win Wenders’ “perfect daysis one of those rare occasions where a strictly described premise sums up the vastness of a movie: a janitor in Japan drives between jobs listening to rock music. In this case, the janitor is Hirayama (koji yakusho), an older man whose job is to clean Tokyo’s elegantly designed public toilets. The rock music is a medley of classics, played directly from rare cassettes carefully inserted into the cover of Hirayama’s cleaning truck.
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The music not only dramatically accentuates the key moments in Wenders’ latest, but also acts as an inspired foil to the protagonist’s calmness. Hirayama is a daytime flanêur whose routine consists of listening: to others, to the city and to nature. A collector not only of sounds but also of images, he carries an old movie camera in the front pocket of his overflowing Tokyo toilets in general at all times, taking pictures of tree branches as the wind slices through them, tearing leaves from the fertile wood and the barren ones. concrete.
Nothing is too small a detail for Hirayama. Every morning, he wakes up and neatly makes his bed, inspecting and watering his plants, living organisms that thrive in a sterile environment. He puts on the overalls, takes off the van, puts on the cassette and thus begins the constant routine of work. He water in the bucket, mops in the water, scrubbing the bowl, washing the floors. This is a man for whom the work is not complete but pristine; The laundry routine only ends once a little mirror has made its way through all the nooks and crannies of all the nooks and crannies, hunting down and sorting out all the sneaky stains dumb enough to think they might get away.
“Perfect Days” is a film about an experienced filmmaker drinking from the fountain of other experienced filmmakers, a lengthy narrative text destined to reveal itself in all its richness upon revisiting. At first glance, it’s hard not to see this as a Wenders homage to the Japanese giant. yasujiro ozu again; Wenders already did the tender and affectionate “Tokyo-Ga” in 1985 about the master filmmaker.
And the obvious geographical correlation aside, the film is strung with threads of serenity, allowing even the smallest interactions to play out with Ozu-ian’s gentle patience. There are also nods to another great Japanese, with akira kurosawa‘s characteristic attention to the dramatic value of honest opposition through the overwhelming nature of hormone-infused teenagers, who cut through the silence with enthusiastic, brainless chatter, and the noise of the bars and restaurants where the man hangs out. He sits night after night, carefully turning to the conversations that go on around him.
Also acting as opposing forces is Hirayama’s swan song and how little he makes fun of his upbringing. In this conflict lies the step that almost threatens to trip up “Perfect Days,” a film whose commentary on the class begins to be outlined but never quite develops with the patience—or detailed interest—of everything else. A brief visit from Hirayama’s teenage niece Niko (arisa nakano) acts as the past walking into the present, a brief window into the reasoning behind the man’s self-imposed isolation, but of little help when he seeks a deeper understanding of his current economic situation.
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t an overexposed search for answers to neatly tie up all the loose ends, but Wenders’ loving framing of Hirayama’s often grueling work is in persistent contrast to the realities of the work. The frustration quickly dissolves in the service of reinforcing the lighting of the central character, a repetitive arc that confuses the refined treatment of the themes that accompany the film. “Perfect Days” does its best to find fulfillment in mundane work as jim jarmusch does with the titular character of the bus driver in “pattersonBut this particular arc doesn’t add to the film’s many laurels.
Unfortunately, what is a laurel, and perhaps the biggest of all, is Yakusho, whose central performance carries most of the weight of the latest from Wenders. In a role almost completely void of dialogue, the veteran actor (and co-producer of the film) finds the words where there are none, translating with little glances what no convoluted line ever could. His performance reaches its climax every time the music blasts through the speakers, the frame drenched in the unmistakable notes of classics like Animals “House of the Rising Sun” and by nina simone “Feel good” as Hirayama is immersed in the sights, smells and sensations of his surroundings, life, lived so clearly, nothing more than a sequence of beautifully lived, perfect days. [B+]
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