Directed by Yuya Ishii
Official Selection, 2014 Busan International Film Festival
Between last year’s commercial hit The Great Passage and the forthcoming historical epic The Vancouver Asahi, director Yuya Ishii quietly made his most moving film to date, the scaled-back, unassuming OUR FAMILY. It’s the first straight-up drama of his career, and the first where the intimacy never needs to be laced with irony. The story is even altogether conventional: a woman falls ill and doctors give her a week to live. It’s time for the family to pull themselves together in the face of potential tragedy.
Still, Ishii forgoes the chronic illness hysterics and nimbly stages a series of revelations that are as attuned to social conditions as they are to human ones. With the economic downturn, an old financial loophole has manifested as a sinkhole, tying the fates of family members together in unexpected ways. And though elder son Kosuke (Satoshi Tsumabuki) has a baby on the way and scraggly younger son Shunpei (Sosuke Ikematsu) barely has money to get by, their reluctant optimism steers them forward in a race to help mom.
As directed by Ishii, the developments unfold in measured steps that feel less like characters’ individual decisions than the inevitable machinations of family ethics. But what Ishii accomplishes so beautifully is to show that the little things we’re conditioned to do to help each other are in fact torrents of generosity. And in those breathtaking moments when we and the characters realize this, the clock seems to stop ticking and even the most hapless feel heroic. With a sweet guitar sigh, OUR FAMILY points its characters ahead and earns a most satisfying, tender ending. –Brian Hu
To Walk Beside You (2009)
Sawako Decides (2010)
A Man With Style (2011)
Mitsuko Delivers (2011)
The Great Passage (2013)
The Vancouver Asahi (2014)
Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Mieko Harada, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kyozo Nagatsuka