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KIFF 2023: Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days celebrates the beauty in everyday life

Koji Yakusho won the Best Actor award at the 76th Cannes Film Festival for playing Hirayama in Perfect Days

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 07.12.23, 04:22 PM
Koji Yakusho in Perfect Days, which was screened at 29th Kolkata International Film Festival.

Koji Yakusho in Perfect Days, which was screened at 29th Kolkata International Film Festival. IMDb

Perfect Days, celebrated director Wim Wenders’s latest feature film in collaboration with writer-director Takuma Takasaki, offers a bittersweet character study of a lonely toilet cleaner against the backdrop of Tokyo’s enchanting urban landscape. The film’s leading man Koji Yakusho won the Best Actor award at the 76th Cannes Film Festival for playing Hirayama, a middle-aged man leading a seemingly mundane life as a toilet cleaner.

In Perfect Days, Wenders crafts a film that celebrates the extraordinary in the ordinary, inviting viewers to appreciate the quiet poetry of everyday life.

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Hirayama finds joy and solace in the routine of his daily work and sharing post-work drinks at a commuter bar. A day in his life involves serene drives in his van while listening to classic rock and pop legends like Patti Smith and Lou Reed. There’s a maturity and calmness in him that comes through in his interactions with his goofy young assistant Takashi (Tokio Emoto).

Even his weekends are regimented, filled with bicycle trips to mundane places like the laundromat and a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. But the act of burying himself in a daily routine is his way of brushing aside a past he’s reluctant to confront.

Wenders introduces the variations in Hirayama’s life through the cultural nuances of his leisure time — the books he reads and the music he listens to, all enjoyed through cassettes in a world increasingly dominated by digital devices.

The tranquility of Hirayama’s life is disturbed when Niko, the teenaged daughter of his estranged sister, arrives unexpectedly. As she extends her stay, Hirayama’s carefully constructed routine is upended, exposing his past and the defence mechanism that his regimented life has become.

Wenders uses monochrome dream sequences inspired by the Japanese concept of komorebi, adding a poetic layer to Hirayama’s introspection, and his attention to detail in showcasing Tokyo’s public facilities is astounding.

Koji Yakusho holds the film through his performance, conveying Hirayama’s inner life through gestures, sighs and pauses. Arisa Nakano plays Niko with a delightful blend of curiosity and vitality.

Perfect Days will be screened at Nandan (Screen 1) on December 8.

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