"Your family isn't normal," Toshiko tells her middle-aged son, Ryoto. "These days, we're not abnormal" is Ryo's response. Like last year's acclaimed Tokyo Sonata or Yasujiro Ozu's classic Tokyo Story, Still Walking aims to get at the quiet secrets, regrets, and resentments trapped at the heart of a seemingly tidy Japanese family unit. The cinematically dysfunctional family may have become the new norm, but acclaimed writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) explores the unique conditions of one family's dysfunction with patience and a delightfully muted wit all his own.
Fifteen years ago, Ryo's older brother Junpei died while rescuing a boy from drowning. On the anniversary of his death, Ryo and his sister, each with their own families in tow, have made the trip to visit their elderly parents, and the years of tension kept barely below the surface finally threaten to run over during their 24-hour stay. From everyday domestic squabbles over sizzling tempura in the kitchen to the elegant graveside ritual performed for Junpei, Kore-eda shows complete mastery of his characters, exposing bit by bit in real time both the grievances that drive them apart and the love that holds them together. This exquisitely detailed family drama shines with warmth and understanding. An IFC Films presentation.