Review: Our Little Sister (2016)

My Plot review: Recommended
Star rating: Star rating of 5

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A whispering masterpiece from Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda

Hirokazu Koreeda returns to UK screens with a quiet, lovingly crafted glimpse into the lives of four young women. OUR LITTLE SISTER is the Japanese film-maker's latest film to centre around the complexities of broken families, and what it means to embrace the role of a parent.

Adapted from the Akimi Yoshida graphic novel SEASIDE TOWN DIARY, we meet three sisters (Yoshi, Chika and Sachi) who live together in their late grandmother’s home. Estranged from their parents, the women live three very different lives — and the concentrated details of those lives gently unveil themselves over the two hour run time.

News of their father’s death reluctantly takes the sisters to his funeral, and we’re introduced to 13-year-old Suzu - a half sister from their father’s second marriage. Despite the indifference to their father’s passing, the three sisters observe the neglectful nature of Suzu’s mother, and spontaneously invite their shy half-sister to live with them in the Kamakura home.

While Yoshida’s graphic novel focuses heavily on Suzu’s new life with her sisters, film-maker Koreeda switches the narrative to the eldest — Sachi (Haruka Ayase).Taking the role of a mother, while balancing a demanding career and love affair with a married man. This is where OUR LITTLE SISTER triumphs, in Koreeda’s patient story telling of how the lives of these four sisters flourish around one another. With outstanding performances from the entire cast.

The sister’s house itself acts as a vessel for the various themes throughout the film. Koreeda drifts the storytelling from location to location, only to arrive back home every so often. It becomes a place in which the characters find comfort, providing moments of reflection for themselves and us, the viewers.

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Accompanying a dream-like soundtrack by regular contributor Yoko Kanno, cinematographer Mikiya Takimoto captures the sisters and the surrounding Kamakura area beautifully. An exceptional colour palette of blue and grey tones compliment the seaside town’s ocean and forests alike. From the opening shot of of Chika onwards, you are drawn into the mastery of every frame.

As seasons blur from one to the next, we invest into the daily lives of these women. Observing their natures in overcoming death, loss and heartbreak. And as you grow attached to this family, experiencing a new life in which young Suzu faces herself, leaving them as the credits roll may prove too bittersweet.

Our Little Sister is now showing in select cinemas.
The film is also available to stream with Curzon Home Cinema.
For further details visit http://www.ourlittlesister.co.uk.