As in his finest movies, Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, NYFF22) here locates the magnificence in the everyday, casting the incomparable Koji Yakusho as the taciturn, good-natured Hirayama, who goes about his solitary hours working as a public toilet cleaner in Tokyo. Interacting on his rounds with a variety of city denizens whose eccentricities put his gentle nature into even more delightful relief, the middle-aged Hirayama becomes the quiet hero of his own story, doing his menial work without complaint, bemused yet often enchanted at the younger folk orbiting him, and delighted by the natural wonders poking out from the corners of the always changing cityscape. Hirayama is a creature very much of the present, devoted to a daily routine that is nearly monastic—until it is disrupted by someone from his past. Working in concert with Wenders’s documentarian eye, Yakusho, who won the Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, makes his character’s every movement magnetic. A NEON release.
Recommended Film Comment reading:
- The Film Comment Podcast: Perfect Days (Cannes 2023)
- Film of the Week: Wrong Move
- Pina: The Center of the World
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