From Bergman’s Cries and Whispers to Woody’s Hannah and her Sisters and Interiors, and from Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides to Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, world cinema is strewn with remarkable gems centered on a group of sisters struggling to sustain their bonds despite familial dysfunctions, personality differences and simmering underlying bitterness. Kore-eda’s gently affecting Our Little Sister, suffused with heartbreaking warmth, empathy, restraint and humanism, is yet another magnificent example of the above. The film immediately established the closely-knit lives of three sisters residing in their cozy house in the coastal city Kamakura – the stunning and emotionally restrained eldest sister Sachi (Haruka Ayase) who works as a nurse and has played the role of matriarch ever since their parents left them many years back after separating themselves; the vivacious and impulsive middle sister Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) who’s unlucky with her boyfriends; and the goofy youngest sister Chika (Kaho). They experience a curious but pleasant surprise at the funeral upon the demise of their long estranged father when they meet their kid half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose); and, perhaps seeing a bit of herself in this young orphaned girl, Sachi adopts her. The presence of this shy, tender-natured girl, with a talent for football, and carrying a deep sense of guilt for indirectly being the reason for the abandonment faced by the three sisters, added both music and lilting rhythm to their lives. The heartwarming narrative, with its string of extraordinary performances, absorbing visual design and sumptuous score, was filled with joy, melancholy, pathos, delicacy and depth – various moments of togetherness, brief arrival of their mother, visiting the café run by their beloved aunt, bike ride through sakura bloom, among others.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Genre: Drama/Family Drama