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Ozu style heart-warming drama stressing family bonding
Kicino19 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is the 4th movie on family drama centering around children I have seen by director Hirokazu Koreeda. I love them all and I would say only until this one did I see some resemblance of him to Yasujiro Ozu, Japanese classic humanistic director.

Whatever it resembles or echoes, I quite enjoy the tranquil life in Kamakura, especially family life taking place in an old Japanese house with porch and a plum tree and a little storage under the wood floor. Any movie with an old house like that (such as "I Wish (Kiseki)," "My SO has got Depression," "Wolf Children," "Postcard" and of course "And Then (Sorekara)" would instantly calm me down.

Yet behind this tranquil life, there is family trauma where three girls have been abandoned by their mother after their father left for another woman, a similar theme appears in "Nobody Knows" by the same director. What is different though, the Koda sisters have been brought up by their maternal grandparents in the coastal and historical town of Kamakura, 50 km south-west of Tokyo until they passed away.

When the movie begins, their grandparents are long gone and the girls have been living in the family house and taking care of themselves for seven years. News come from northeastern Japan that their father died and they have to attend his funeral, where they meet their half-sister, 15-year-old Suzu (Suzu Hirose) for the first time. Suzu has been living with her step mother and father since her biological mother died.

The only connection between the three sisters and Suzu was their biological father and the lack of mother. Perhaps the big sister Sachi (Haruka Ayase) sees some resemblance in Suzu to her and her sisters, she invites Suzu to move in with them. The other two sisters (Masami Nagasawa and Kaho) second the idea. Alone with her step family, Suzu left for Kamakura and we enter the sisters' world through Suzu's perspective.

Similarly abandoned by adults and take care of themselves as in "Nobody Knows," the sisters in "Our little sister" have grown to extend family tradition – making plum wine and making family styled meals and struggle to fulfill their dreams – be a good nurse, a caring bank employee, a supportive girlfriend and playing soccer. The little brother from "I Wish", Ohshiro Maeda, who played the role of Futai Ozaki, has also matured into a handsome young men and takes the initiative to introduce his new friend for the local beauty – a cherry blossom tunnel.

Sakura, the essence of Japanese culture, was beautifully captured in this movie, not only in the tunnel where the youngsters bike through, but also as a swan's call before their neighbor passes away. She said the same thing as the sisters' father said on his dead bed – that we can look at beautiful things as beautiful before we leave. Life can be hard, but if we focus on the beauty of it, it can still be beautiful.

Death appear repeatedly in this movie – besides their father's funeral, the neighbor and their grandma's deaths are also mentioned. Big sister Sachi works at the terminal care ward and faces death day in and day out. The movie portrays death as something all around us and that not only is it nothing to be sad about or afraid of, but it reminds us how to live fully before we reach this full stop.

Part of being alive is extending family tradition or capturing beauty at the right moment – like Sakura hanami, biking in a cherry blossom tunnel, making plum wine and the white fish toast and rice and playing fireworks in yukata. Part of living relates to sacrifice for a bigger cause: Koda's father and mother leaving Kamakura and Saka's leaving her boyfriend.

Excellent cast and acting. I wish I had a big sister like Sachi and lived in a big house like that. The home-cooked meals make the whole movie very homey, warm and humanistic, even more comfortable than "Midnight Diner." In the big scheme of things, family is what we have left despite all the arguments and differences. And sometimes we may have to make sacrifices for the sake of the family – a theme common in Ozu's movies. Family and food seem to be the source of support we get after all the crazy things we encounter in the outside world – abandonment, betrayal, deaths, etc. Quite heart-warming, uplifting and beautiful. A little sad and a little short, just like life and cherry blossom.
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The Pursuit of Happiness
simon-wang22 March 2016
All the Hollywood directors producing one comic-book sequel after the other (and all other directors as well) should see this film, they should turn away in shame, and quit directing. Movie is largely seen as a medium to entertain, yet it could be so much more.

Watching this movie, in every scene, it is incomprehensible for a western viewer how it is filmed: There are only daily life scenes, nothing dramatic, yet it is such a heart-warming experience, a simple joy of watching people living their lives.

The story follows 3 very different grown-up sisters who live independently in a big house. The father has left them when they were little, and now they learn that they yet have another little sister. Soon their little dormitory has an additional guest. The main characters are the youngest sister who tries to adapt to her new life, and the oldest sister who is determined to live her life lead by strength and kindness.

Critics have compared Kore-eda with Ozu, because of his calm observation of life. Still, Ozu's films contain great sadness, while Kore-eda's movies ('Like Father,Like Son', 'Kiseki') are full of hope and joy for living. They show simple people trying to find happiness in life. It has a Zen-like quality: one doesn't need big dramatic events to show love and kindness, if you are looking close enough you will find it in the most ordinary things in daily life.

This is one of the best movies I've ever seen.
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loved it !
vexyl5 January 2016
This movie is 128 minutes long and at the end i was hoping it could go on for two more hours. For me it is the essence of what cinema should be. Great story real characters and real life ! Just a few days before i was watching SW7 and thought it was an OK movie but while watching "our little sister" i was realizing how much better cinema can be and how bad most Hollywood blockbusters really are. I know its like comparing a Michelin star cook to Mc Donald's but when you tasted both you realize one is art and one is fast food. One you eat because you're hungry (bored) and one because it tastes great. This movie is art because it touches you in a special way ... not you ego but your humanity.

Compared to Hirokazu Koreeda previous movie "like father like son" the story is very loose sometime you even think there is none. You also get tricked by the expectations other movies force you to have by repeating the same motives over and over again. I'm not sure if this is intentional or the movie is just so different.

Like most Japanese or Asian movies there is some stuff that could be a little bit to slapstick and melodramatic for western viewers but that's a very small price to pay.

If you don't count anime "our little sister" makes it in my top 5 Asian movies of all time. I highly recommend it.
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Wonderfully understated and brilliantly immersive
themadmovieman15 April 2016
This is by no means a simple watch, but it's a hugely pleasant one. Our Little Sister is a perfect example of how a slow, calm and natural film can pull you in so much deeper than something big and loud, with fantastic performances, beautiful directing, brilliant dialogue and an emotionally impressive, but never melodramatic story.

The most striking thing about this film is the directing. It's all very understated, but the director is so brilliant at giving you staggeringly beautiful vistas of the countryside landscape of Japan. It never takes over what's happening in the story, but the way that the natural world is presented in this film is so special, and makes it an absolute joy to watch.

The performances are great too. Again, with a very quiet and understated story, the actors all do a fantastic job at providing interesting drama and engaging character development, which makes the slow pacing of this film feel almost invisible, as you're able to be pulled in so effectively by the very human, realistic performances, which was so impressive to see.

And that ability to create a realistic drama continues in the film's dialogue. The performances are all fantastic, but without the brilliantly-written dialogue, that feels so natural and real, this film may not have been as brilliantly engrossing as it is. Luckily, however, every line is so well-crafted, and fits so well with whatever's going on on screen, that you become totally immersed in this film as if you're right there taking part in these conversations.

This is effectively a 'slice of life' drama, where we're not getting an over-the-top, cinematic melodrama, but one that just peers into some people's lives, and makes a compelling story out of it.

That's true for a lot of the film, and I definitely enjoyed following the brilliant plot here, but if there is one complaint that I do have with Our Little Sister, it lies within the way the story is told. Understated films are fantastic, and shouldn't be overlooked, but in this film, I felt as if it was just a little too quiet in its opening stage to get you fully up to speed with what's going on.

Don't get me wrong, the calm nature of the film is beautiful for the most part, but for the first twenty minutes or so, I did feel a little lost with the characters' various backgrounds and relationships due to little early exposition, which made for an occasionally frustrating watch at the beginning.

Overall, however, Our Little Sister is a wonderful film, and it uses understated drama in a brilliantly realistic and immersive way, helped further by great performances and fantastic directing.
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Such a beautiful film
pnck7121 February 2016
Ah, such a beautiful film. Just saw it at the Dublin Film Festival, picked it somewhat at random, and did not regret it at all. If you want to have a break from all the noise around and want some peace and quite then this is the film to watch. There isn't much action here, just 3+1 sisters living their day by day lives. Although, the lives are not at all empty, you will find that there is quite a bit of love and pain, decisions big and small, regrets and forgiveness, but they are all expressed in rather subtle tones. And despite anything, you keep feeling that things are getting better and people are growing together rather than falling apart. Such a feel good movie. And, although it is set up in modern times, there is a good measure of tranquility of old Japan mixed in. Small town, old house, veranda into the garden, plum tree, and of course sakura. So all people and events are intertwined with beauty that is around us. Cinematography and acting are flawless. You just completely immerse into the film and are surprised when it stops. And of course, if you've ever been to Japan, there will be many moments that will bring good memories of this incredible place and culture.
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No traveling for this sisterhood
ferguson-61 September 2016
Greetings again from the darkness. Movies don't frequently begin after the most disruptive drama has already occurred. However, such is the case with director Hirokazu Koreeda's adaptation of Akima Yoshida's graphic novel "Umimachi Diary", the source material for this tale of sisterly love formed by tradition and some unfavorable circumstances that are "nobody's fault" (a recurring theme).

Three adult sisters live together in their large family home, and have done so for many years – since their father left for another woman, and their mother, unable to cope, abandoned them. Sachi (Hanuka Ayase) is the oldest and self-burdens by carrying the most responsibility. Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chiko (Kaho) are quite a bit more care-free than their older sister, but this non-traditional family unit functions with traditional meals served within the walls of their traditional house.

The sisters attend their father's funeral where they meet their half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose), who they invite to come live with them. The small town community of Kamakura provides a quaint and beautiful backdrop for the film … which has plenty of personal drama (what would you expect from 4 sisters?) but lacks the high drama that cinema usually heaps on screen.

We easily get to know each of the characters, and how they deal with being a product of their past, while hoping not to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Although "death" is seemingly everywhere, this is mostly a story about appreciating life and beauty – and the strength that comes with a family bond.

The acting is superb throughout, and director Koreeda's camera work is understated and complimentary … except for the moments when it's breathtaking – the Cherry Blossom tunnel, for instance. The look and feel of the film is quite tranquil, but emotions are constantly stirring – whether at a local diner or harvesting the family plum tree for this year's plum wine. It's little wonder that the film was so well received at Cannes Film Festival, and for those who enjoy a less-thunderous approach to cinema, it should be quite a pleasant two hours.
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Family matters
tenshi_ippikiookami7 April 2017
"Our Little Sister" centers around four sisters, their lives and their relationships. It may look like a small, complacent, too slow and contemplative movie, but Koreeda, with the help of amazing acting all around, elevates the proceedings and delivers a really good movie.

Sachi, Yoshino and Chika are three sisters that have lived together for some years. Their father left, marrying again, and their mother run away, leaving them behind. The death of the father brings all of them to his funeral, where they meet their half-sister Suzu. Sachi, the oldest, offers Suzu go living with them, and Suzu accepts, the four starting to live together.

From that moment on the movie develops slowly, but securely, with great character development, a couple of very touching moments, and a focus on human relationships and the reasons behind our behavior. That Koreeda has restrained Haruka Ayase, charming Masami Nagasawa, happy-go-lucky Kaho and innocent but smart looking Suzu Hirose as the four sisters helps, as they embody their characters and bring them to life. The plot helps, with little vignettes that help develop the story and entice the viewer's attention.

The movie is a little bit slow, but you won't care, because what you will care about is these four sisters, their world, their problems and the relationship they have between themselves and with all that surrounds them. Great.
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good sisters
chtkhs30 December 2015
The story about sisters lived in Kamakura. It starts that the father of three sisters dies. Then, they know the father has youngest sister, Suzu, whose mother is different from theirs. Suzu needs a place she can be, so she moves to a house that three sisters live. Four sisters have each trouble such as love and work. Also, they think about other sisters very much. Some people don't like this movie or they are bored because the logical development of this movie isn't clear and the story advances slowly. However, I was sympathized about the feeling of each sister and I was moved to tears by their love. I have a sister and two brothers, so I did more than others. In addition, the atmosphere of Kamakura is good and fits with this slowly movie. You wants to go to Kamakura if you watch this movie.
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When spring wind blows
pggirasole18 January 2016
This movie has all the elements to be a perfect Japanese movie usable for a Wstern audience. We have a story about tree sisters living alone in a traditional house facing everyday problems like many Ghibli productions, trains in the mountains, funerals as in the "Departures", little restaurant and cherry blossoms. However here we have an opposite narration compared to the movies of Ozu that made us fall in love with that absolutely Japanese simplicity as well unexpressed depth of emotions inside them. In other words, the beginning of those black and white masterpieces was one of familiar tranquility. A tranquility then threatened and finally restored. Let's think to "Tokyo Monogatari" in which at the end the old mother went back to the village where the younger daughter waits for her. Or the old father giving her daughter as spouse to another house at the end of "Sanma no aji". So there the key was finding the harmony. Like the regular sound of wood made by a bamboo fountain in a Japanese garden. Here in "Our little sister" we start from a situation of familiar disorder and in the end nothing changes so much. The hardships of the three sisters remain the same. Sachi, the older one, still leads all the house and the garden by herself. Yoshino, the lovable middle one, still looks for a new boyfriend whit out stopping the habit of drinking alone. Chika, the little one, still date with his naif boyfriend. But in the middle of all this something happened. They accepted in their lives the young sister Suzu, born after their father divorced. This young girl brought to their life a moment of happiness as well hope to going on to what they were doing. Suzu didn't change their life. Is not what can be called "a familiar earthquake". She should be compared nothing more to a blow of spring wind refreshing the house of the three sisters. This is another great difference from past production. We don't have strongly deep feelings. The sisters lives the joy of everyday. Somebody criticize Koreeda for this aspect accusing him of making a movie of good atmosphere and not of emotions. However family has changed. Japan has changed. The three sisters here stands for the contemporary Japan with low birth rate and feared by the earthquake of 2011. A Japan concerned more to what is going on today then to what can happen tomorrow. So we find ourself on the other side to the society growing fast, sometimes too much, in the Ozu's productions where smoking chimneys made their comparison a lot of times. The end show us this idea more clear. The four girls looks over the sea on a shore while speaking about their future without having great expectations. We find no more girls waiting for their boyfriends while practicing on surf as in Kitano's "A scene at the sea". A masterpiece filmed in the highest economic welfare of Japan of the late 80es. In Koreeda's movie we find contemporary girls simply hoping their everyday life can be as always was until then. With hardships but also joy. Without concerning too much about past,that is to say family and father, and future,or marriage and work. Paradoxically a contemporary return to the simplicity of "mono no aware". The medieval Japanese aesthetic principle of enjoy what is short-lived. As the cherry blossoms. As the windy teenage pureness of Sachi. The little sister that brings happiness.
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A Little Light
politic198323 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I'll forego my typical ramblings about Kore-eda Hirokazu's works being a post-modern, new millennium equivalent of the works of Yasujiro Ozu. We've all had and dismissed that theory now. But so comes his most recent release - and inevitable Cannes nomination - 'Unimachi Diary' ('Our Little Sister').

Based on the manga of the same name, the film is about three sisters attending their estranged father's funeral, where they meet his third wife/widow, stepmother to the daughter he had with his second wife, with whom his affair led to the break-up of his first marriage, which spawned the three original sisters we previously discussed.

Meeting their younger half-sister for the first time, Sachi, the eldest and most sensible of the three, decides to immediately invite little Suzu to live with them in the family house they share in Kamakura. And life starts to turn out perfectly.

Apart from all the confusing inter-relations and paternal death, the first hour of the film is fairly easy-going stuff. The now four sisters go about their business, settling into their new scenario as Suzu acclimatises herself to her new coastal surroundings. It's when the estranged mother of the three eldest sisters arrives in town for her mother's memorial that things start to develop in terms of the social comment that Hirokazu tends to work into his films. Suddenly, Suzu becomes aware of her place as the daughter of a homewrecker; Sachi comes to terms with her fallout with her mother; party girl, Yoshino, soon realises she may need to do more in her career than just earn money for beer; and bohemian child, Chika, tries to learn how to fish.

Inevitably, everything ends up jolly.

'Our Little Sister' is a further evolution into more mainstream films for Hirokazu. Starting with 'I Wish' in 2011 and following-up with 'Like father, Like Son', his greater exposure globally has led to his films becoming more accessible for the audience, unlike the more challenging works of his early days, such as 'Moborosi' and 'After Life'. There is a nicer, more gentle edge to this film, with more attempts at humour and a more positive and standard ending, rather than his usual, more complex compromises, as life offers no easy answers. Here, while bad things happen, the outcome seems to turn out fine.

'Easy' is probably the word to best summarise this film. The first half of the film is fairly easy-going, and the scenario is one lacking as much depth as his previous. One criticism of 'Like Father, Like Son' is that the clash of characters was designed to facilitate the story better. In 'Our Little Sister', the same could be said, with the three elder sisters having opposing personality types to show different ways of coping. The speed of the inviting of Suzu to come live with them also seems a little too simple to feel natural. Sachi's affair with a older doctor serves as an obvious plot device, making her no better than Suzu's mother, leaving it something for her to have to come to terms with.

But it's how forgiving all the women of the film seem to be towards the unseen father that seems a little too easy. Despite his affairs, he is seen as a 'kind man,' only criticised for being a little 'useless.'

'Our Little Sister' is an entertaining and enjoyable film, but confirms a more mainstream move for its director: She ain't heavy, she's our little sister, but she's alright at football, apparently.

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Comfort watching
euroGary25 October 2015
Based on Akimi Yoshida's josei manga 'Umimachi Diary', 'Our Little Sister' is a women-centred, Japanese chick-flick.

Adult sisters Sachi (the serious one), Yoshino (the sexy partying one) and Chika (the comedy relief one), abandoned by their father when they were just small children, live in the large, old house turned over to them by their mother when she too abandoned them as teenagers. Although men feature in all their lives, it is to each other they are most loyal.

One day comes news that their estranged father has died, and the three sisters travel to attend his funeral. While there they meet their step-sister, thirteen year-old Suzu, product of the affair that led to their father's desertion. Suzu's own mother has also died, and on impulse the sisters invite her to live with them. The film then follows the quartet over the next several months of relationship troubles (Sachi), work troubles (Yoshino), boyfriend-wanting-to-climb-a-mountain troubles (Chika) and mixed-sex football (Suzu).

It's all very feel-good: Suzu, for example, exhibits none of the stroppiness one would usually associate with a teenaged girl, docilely doing what she's told by Sachi (who in real life would very much be the target of "You're not my mother!"-type teenage flounces) and easily making nice, well-behaved friends at her new school. Meanwhile, Sachi and her estranged mother reach an understanding, and even the death of a close friend is portrayed as life-affirming, with much talk of cherry blossom and beauty. And the soundtrack is always waiting, ever-ready, to pounce with surging strings at moments of great emotion (of which there are many).

But feel-good is not necessarily bad. If you want to watch a film that isn't in any way challenging, with engaging performances, signposted plot developments and a little humour - in short, a film to relax to - you could do worse than this.
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Tribute to traditional Japanese values
rubenm4 December 2015
This is a small film about small things. No sweeping statements, no deep emotions, no spectacular events. It's about the lives of three sisters in their twenties, who live in a large, old wooden house, and their fifteen year old half-sister Suzu whom they invite to live with them. Nothing more, nothing less.

But behind the seemingly simple story is a series of unpleasant events from the past. The father of the three sisters has left his family to start a new life with another woman - the mother of Suzu. The heartbroken wife who was left behind couldn't cope with raising the three girls alone, and left them as well.

All this is revealed little by little and bit by bit. 'You realize this is the daughter of the woman who has ruined the family?', asks the great-aunt of the three sisters when she hears that they have invited Suzu to come and live with them, after the death of their father. But the arrival of Suzu subsequently seems to erase all unpleasant memories from the past.

The film is a tribute to traditional Japanese values like respect, harmony and forgiveness. Although they are quite different, the sisters respect each other and lovingly include Suzu into their lives. It is also a film that breathes tradition: the sisters live in an old, traditional Japanese house, they eat traditional dishes like home- made noodles, and regularly they go to a small traditional restaurant. At one point, they all wear traditional yukata's. And of course, there is a scene featuring the cherry blossom - the essence of all things Japanese.

It's all filmed in an extremely tasteful and elegant way by director Hirokazu Kore-Eda. Comparisons with Yasujiro Ozu (the maker of Tokyo Story) are quite appropriate. But the uneventfulness of it all got a bit on my nerves. The older sister has trouble with her married boyfriend, the middle one gets promoted at her job, and little Suzu makes a goal at a soccer game - that's about as exciting as it gets.
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thin and airy slice of life melodrama
CountZero31313 November 2015
When their estranged father dies, three sisters decide to take in their younger half-sister to live with them in Kamakura, despite the fact that she is the daughter of the woman who wrecked their parents' marriage.

Koreeda seems intent on paying homage to Ozu here. The rhythms of family life are laid out in detailed scenes on cooking, funeral rituals, and memorial services. The more traditional landscapes of Kamakura, including heavily foregrounded cherry blossoms, feature prominently. And nothing much happens, which is the film's most damaging failing. Sachi (a one-note Haruka Ayase) seems content with her married lover. Any conflict she may feel over her situation is buried deeper than the audience can see. Yoshino, exuberantly played by Masami Nagasawa, always picks the wrong guy, ending up broken-hearted and out of pocket. A possible redemptive story line with an under-used Ryo Kase is left unexplored. Kaho may or may not have a romance going with her boss (we never find out). And the waif taken in, Suzu, (a charismatic Suzu Hirose) knows more about their father than any of them, but merely hints at complexity, and never mines it.

Shinobu Ohtake shows up as the recalcitrant mother about an hour in, bringing brief hope that her appearance might bring about a volatile mix. The situation, however, is snuffed out as quickly as it flares up, and we are back to wistful looks off-camera and bike rides through softly falling cherry blossom petals.

Koreeda faithfuls Kirin Kiki and Riri Furanki show up in roles that are practically cameos, unfortunately reminding us that Still Walking and Like Father, Like Son are so much more powerful and complex.

This is a light, delicately observed film, so much so that it is too slight and so simply floats and vanishes rather than takes root. Like Air Doll this is, unfortunately, simply Koreeda in an indulgent moment.
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Feel good nonsense that goes nowhere
baby_since4 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Made an account just to review this movie. What a boring, boring, BORING movie. I see a lot of foreign films (mother-tongue Tamil) and this is one of the worst non-Tamil, non-English movies I've ever seen, Oh sure we can go on and on about the cinematography, the acting (gag) and all sorts of technical details BUT, at the core of the film, the story itself is bad. It is so bad. So some girl comes to live with her 3 other sisters after her dad dies. Fair enough. But go somewhere with it. Literally the most mundane and banal things happen throughout the movie. No drama, no tension, no nothing. Would have been vastly better if the girl was a completely amoral sociopath that rips apart the closely knit sisters. I would pay good money to watch that. Oh they're going shopping. No scallops! Gasp! What drama! Whatever will they do next? COOKING! CLEANING! WASHING! What a twist! Keeps you on the edge of your seat. I couldn't even finish this turd and that's a complete low for me. At least they made Japan look good. All these glowing critic reviews feels like a conspiracy. This movie is the definition of Oscar bait. Banal, trite and no kind of storytelling whatsoever. 1 / 10.
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In one of the most paternalistic countries in the world, one film aces the Bechdel test.
De_Sam6 February 2016
The adaptation of a graphic novel to film may seem more easily attainable than other media, it can still suffer from the same problems. Hirokazu Koreeda, with his attention to details, did a marvellous job with this film. I noticed many cabiria- movements throughout the film, I suppose mimicking the movement of the reader's eyes.

Koreeda was also a good fit for the subject of the story, his last film Like Father, Like Son also handled relations between reunited family members. This time the most defining aspect is the role of the female in Japan, still a very paternalistic country, yet as the film shows they have no difficulty living on their own. Every film is an image of its time and Our Little Sister shows that times have changed, this case for the better.

The cinematography was very beautiful, to the point were I would recommend trying to watch Our Little Sister on the big screen. The long-shots of natural views are breath-taking. Furthermore, the script and the film feel very precise, no doubt the outcome of Hirokazu Koreeda writing the screenplay, directing and editing the film.
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Horst_In_Translation17 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film's name is "Our Little Sister" or "Umimachi Diary" and I find the title with "diary" very fitting because the movie really feels like watching a diary entry in motion picture form. We basically follow the lives of 4 young Japanese females and their joy and struggles in life. It's not really equal as we find out more about some than about others. When their father dies, they meet their half-sister for the first time and instantly make a connection through which they decide to take her in and live with her in the future. I have see many Japanese(-themed) films in the past and favorites include "Lost in Translation" and "Okuribito". I always found their culture fairly interesting. Their approach to film is also pretty similar most of the time. These films are not really about a lot happening and most of them are very slow in terms of the action. It's more about character study than real drama.

Still, I am not saying there is no drama in this film here. One of the most interesting aspects is probably when one of the girls is in the process of moving into a similar role like the woman who "took" their father from them when they were a lot younger. There are maybe one or two scenes that felt a bit cheesy like the screaming about the father and mother near the end, but it's not a major letdown. Maybe it was also an example of bad dubbing and would have felt more authentic in the original Japanese version. I watched the German dub. The movie manages to cross the 2-hour mark and there are a couple scenes that did not add too much, so they probably could have kept it at 105 minutes maybe. However, they may also have done without some of the better scenes that way, so it's all good I guess. It certainly does not drag a lot.

Writer and director Hirokazu Koreeda adapted a manga for his newest film here and he managed to score a nomination at the Cannes Film Festival for the prestigious Palme d'Or. I can see the appeal of the film for sure. It's a very nice mix of comedy and drama, but all very subtle with very few exceptions. Basically, it's just life depicted in a very realistic approach. Sometimes it almost reminded me of a documentary film. Thumbs up for "Our Little Sister". I recommend the watch.
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Our Little Sister
quinimdb28 November 2016
"Our Little Sister" is a simple, beautiful little film. It focuses on a small scale - a bunch of sisters who decide to start caring for their little half-sister after meeting her at their father's funeral - but the characters are universally relatable. It deals with themes of family, love, childhood, dealing with change, and human connection. If anything, this is a very human film.

The cinematography is gorgeous, but subtle and subdued. The film goes along with a slow pace, but this helps it focus on the great beauty of the small moments in everyday life. Although the slow pace of the film make take some time to get into, all the characters feel lovable but flawed by the end. All of the performances, including child actors, are spot on. The slow build up has major payoff because the sentimentality of the film doesn't feel forced or exaggerated. These emotional moments are played pretty straight, and they all work immensely well.

The film is simultaneously a coming of age story for the youngest sister, Suzu, and the oldest, Sachi, although it focuses on each character enough to feel emotionally attached to each one. Even most side characters are given a good degree of depth.

This is a beautiful family film that doesn't just focus on the effect of family, but finding your own family. It's about solidarity with the people one loves despite everything that each person has gone through (or is going through).
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Interesting But Slow and Bland.
net_orders26 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Our Little Sister / Sea Town Diary (Lit.). Viewed on DVD. Subtitles/translations = ten (10) stars; cinematography = eight (8) stars; music = seven (7) stars. Director Hirokazu Koreeda's feel-good Kamakura tale of three long-abandoned sisters (their father left 15 years ago, their mother moved to Hokkaido and last visited 14 years ago) living in their deceased grandmother's house unexpectedly discovering a much younger paternal half sister at their father's funeral. Since the three sisters have pretty much had to learn to raise themselves (under the watchful eye of a great aunt?), they feel qualified to raise the De Facto foundling. Koreeda is credited as being a screen writer and the editor. The Director under delivers on plot possibilities. Engaging emotional highs and lows are mostly among the missing. The scenario seems tinged with an aura of artificiality (it appears to lack, well, a real "sisters' touch"). Actress Suzu Hirose plays the "little" sister. While her performance is very good, she appears to be too old to play a coming-of-age teenager (the other three lead actress also seem a bit too old for their roles). Editing leaves some rough edges especially when intended scene sequences are abruptly terminated. Cinematography (semi-wide screen, color) and lighting are excellent except for an overexposed, inconsequential exterior scene that should have been re-shot or cut. Score is fine. Sound fields are okay. Subtitles and translations are outstanding. Dialog subtitles are close to being spot on. Writing and signs are translated. All closing credits are also translated--a rarity in Japanese films. Congratulations to the producers! An above average chick flick. Recommended. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
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A tale of four sisters living under the same roof.
Reno-Rangan4 May 2016
It was based on the manga series. This is from one of the best directors from Japan that I am familiar with his works. I have seen some of his previous films and I loved them all, but sadly not this time. To be honest, I'm not the fan of this kind of movies, but I have watched them a lot before and liked them a lot. This movie is totally made for the film critics and film festivals, but winning awards that I never understood how.

They call it an art film, but not everyone going to enjoy it. There's no entertainment in it, nor inspiring. It was like someone's real life portrayed on the screen yet not a documentary. I mean it covered everything, every bit of that person's life, even that was not so important, but only to kill the run time. If you want to try it, make sure got lots of time, especially watching it with patience is very essential.

So what I meant was this film is completely out of cinematic experience like what a film fanatic, families least expect from a movie. It was without the twists, turns, thrills, sad, happy, romance because of too much realism. In one word, it was a straightforward narrative. There will be no exciting developments, nor easy to predict.

If someone is going like it, that might be mostly out of courtesy, and maybe for the cast and their performances and the respect for the film making or maybe they're somewhat close to this story. But individuals have their own reasons why they liked it, likewise I'm writing this review to say why I did not like much. Other than that, I don't see anything special in it to praise this product.

"I'll be in your hands from now on."

Don't accuse me that I'm totally bashing it, actually to me it was an average movie, which mean I did not hate nor liked. The best thing I found in the movie was the characters. Four sisters living under the one roof with love and care for one another. But the movie failed to focus them all equally by leaning too much on only a couple of characters. Like the title say obviously it centres on the 14 year old Suzu who's the youngest among and the newest member to join the house. But that did not bring the best story out of that character, at least not as what I hoped for.

The photography was good, the locations were beautiful, especially in the opening that rural Japan. A brief view into the Japanese culture, especially the lifestyle of the young independent women. Frame by frame it gives the feel of you are watching an anime movie. I think I might have loved it if it was an anime, because usually a young girl or a boy theme is always a success.

In this kind of film making, it is always the combination of the characters and the story. The characters were fantastic in this, but the story was not, hence I was disappointed a bit. I never interested in the gossip about someone's life. Maybe that's why I did not like this because I felt like it was someone's life which is nothing to do with me.

You know normal life is too boring in reality as well as to see in a movie. But I still respect the movie, that's why I did not consider it a bad film. I won't suggest it, but you might like what I did not because of the different taste in the movies. So all I say is choose it carefully, don't let the ratings and the reviews deceive you, including mine.

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A horribly pointless and slow drama...
paul_haakonsen17 March 2019
I must admit that I am a sucker for anything Asian, and given the chance to sit down and watch an Asian movie I will gladly do so. So it was that I was given the chance to watch the 2015 "Umimachi Diary" (aka "Our Little Sister") from director/writer Hirokazu Koreeda based on the Manga from writer Akimi Yoshida.

Sadly this movie was unfathomably slow paced and had next to nothing to tell in terms of a properly entertaining and captivating storyline. Sure, the movie had great acting performances, but the plot and storyline was just so horribly slow paced and irrelevant that the actresses struggled a losing battle no matter how well they performed.

I managed to endure 1 hour of the ordeal that is known as "Umimachi Diary" before I gave up out of sheer and utter boredom. I have no intention of returning to finish the rest of the movie, because there was nothing entertaining here, and just watching the female actresses trying to stay afloat in a sinking script hardly proves for proper entertainment.

This drama might certainly have an audience out there somewhere, sadly I was not in the target audience. But then again, I can't claim to have been familiar with anything about the movie prior to stumbling upon it by sheer random luck.

There are far better Japanese movies in the drama genre, so I am advising you to find something else if you are in for an evening of Japanese drama on the screen.
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Only literal fireworks, but better for it.
WhimsicalVonia30 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Our Little Sister (Japanese: Umimachi Diary {Seaside Town Diary}) (2015) Director: Hirokazu Koreeda Watched: April 2018 Rating: 7/10

Sachi, Yoshino, Chika. Three sisters, living together, growing up, learning the ways of the world. Like any set of sisters, there are fights, but there is also love. Their father has abandoned them for another woman. Their mother has abandoned them for another man. They will not abandon each other. For better or worse. They receive the unforeseen news of their father's death. At his funeral, they receive- not something, but someone- even less foreseen. Their half-sister Suzu. Taking an immediate liking to her, they invite her to live with them. She accepts.

This is a film far more than the sum of its parts. Alone, most scenes are mundane, even taxing to watch. Put all together, though, we have a heartfelt drama with a coming-of-age aspect. The house they cherish and reside in serves as its own character. One must be patient to appreciate the bonding moments between the sisters. Koreeda masterfully portrays the transformation from strangers to family; the slow push and pull in the formation of a lasting relationship. Some lovely cinematography, notably the long shots of scenery and water, the cherry blossom "tunnel" (you can feel yourself there; you can feel the transformative meeting the bicycle ride under those trees has for Suzu), walks along the beach (the sisters, Suzu and her boyfriend, when Sachi tells her lover she can not move with him, then again in the final scene), scream therapy on the mountains (Sachi: "You can talk about {your mother} if you like. You can stay here as long as you like."; Suzu: "I want to stay here forever."). Clever use of slow-motion, e.g. Riding under the tunnel of cherry blossom trees and the four sisters bonding over fireworks.

There are moments of unexpected tension and even suspense, like the meeting between Suzu and her father's ex-wife (her half-sisters' mother) or eldest sister Sachi's heated arguments with her mother, who abandoned the girls at an early age. There are the usual Koreeda staples like finding beauty in everyday things, examinations of life and death including (multiple) funerals, family honor eloquently portrayed, cultural differences like respect accurately portrayed in stark contrast to what is familiar to foreign viewers.

Give this storyline to a director in this country and it would be a completely different film. For one thing, you can bet it would not be anywhere near this delicate and lyrical. It is easy to recognize Koreeda's work- his directing, in a way, invisible. It is an oxymoron. You know it when you see it, because it almost feels like an artful documentary, subdued in its excitement, unsensational in its story; but remarkable in its effect, powerful in its hold long after watching.

Admittedly, this film does drag out. Mostly it is for the better. There are a few debatably superfluous scenes. One should watch this prepared to be taken on a meandering cruise through these girls' early adult lives. Some Koreeda films have unforgettable messages, enlightening stories. This one is more of an artful observation. There will be no figurative fireworks- only the literal ones in a couple endearing scenes. It is called contemplative cinema, after all.

Sisters are a special bond. On a personal note- having an estranged sister- this film especially spoke to me. Late night visits in each others' rooms, "liquid courage" bonding, priceless moments of laughter. Koreeda and these lesser known actresses made some magic here in portraying the uniqueness of sister relationships.

Cheesy but still sweet final scene lines from Sachi: "Dad was not really good man, but he must have been a kind one... He left behind a sister like her for us." #FilmReview #Koreeda #ThingsAsCharacters
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very calm, heartwarming story on family life
nickrick6615 March 2016
i was expecting it to be as great as it intended, and it never disappointed me, very nice movie, beautiful actresses and a well laid out movie, could be better but its the best i've seen in a year. it has very nice music, little romance etc i think this type of movie we need. other than that i highly recommend this show if you love cuteness i wont disappoint and i promise you that, very nice show it has very good elements to it the acting seems good and the subtitles were great, we need some more movies like this.this may be similar to anime movies where family life and real life situation play out. i think this movie has potential and i wished there were series
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Lost Chekov Play
writers_reign30 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's not generally known that Anton Chekov wrote a sequel to - and better play than - his successful Three Sisters and the reason, of course, is that he didn't but if he HAD it would have been very much like this totally EXQUISITE film whose 128 minutes are far too short to allow the viewer to bask sufficiently in its perfection. After only about forty minutes I knew I wanted to watch it again and again. Once they have bestowed every Award available on this BEAUTIFUL movie they should then create a Special award, a one-off celebrating the laughter, tears, joy, melancholy and utter bliss that comprise Life, give it to this gem and then destroy it so that no other film can ever share it. This is a film you watch through a veil of gentle, warm, tears of joy, wallowing in the outstanding performances of the four sisters who share a home where making plum wine is a major event. I can't rule out the fact that I lack siblings of my own - and have never consciously felt a lack - coloured my view of three full sisters who invite the thirteen year-old daughter of their biological father and the woman for whom he deserted them and their mother to share the home in which they live alone. This is very much a film of small pleasures like preparing and eating meals together and is just as nourishing to the viewer. A gorgeous Faberge' egg of a movie. Watch it, please, I beg you.
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beautiful humane drama
bert-huys-242-35575529 December 2015
Just at the very end of 2015 I saw, in my opinion, the second best movie of this year (1. Loin des hommes; 3. Phoenix).

After Still Walking (2008) and Like Father, Like Son (2013) Our Little Sister (2015) was the third movie that I saw from director Hirokazu Koreeda. Each time Koreeda did almost the same thing and then again not really the same thing. But the bounds between one or two families are each time the principal basis on which he delivers his masterpieces. I am in love with his work because you can get very emotional after watching his movies. I also like the quiet camera-work. You are getting at ease after watching so many other movies with fast camera-work. And the beautiful and spirited music gives the movie a magic two hours of admiration and awe.

MY FAVORITE LIST OF 2015 of the new movies that I have seen at the cinema (what strikes me is that there are no English spoken movies in my top 5): 1. LOIN DES HOMMES; 2. OUR LITTLE SISTER; 3. PHOENIX; 4. COMING HOME; 5. THEEB; 6. BRIDGE OF SPIES; 7. SICARIO; 8. LA ISLA MINIMA; 9. A MOST VIOLENT YEAR; 10. RAMS; 11. YOUTH; 12. WHIPLASH; 13. EVEREST; 14. RELATOS SALVAJES; 15. SON OF SAUL; 16. THE LONGEST RIDE; 17. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.; 18. GOOD KILL; 19. SPECTRE; 20. THE MARTIAN ...
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Puts your typical Hollywood film to shame
pyattimac19 January 2017
Like so many foreign films, this is devoid of special effects, tiresome action sequences, gratuitous sex and violence-- just a lovely little gem that truly makes you feel at its conclusion like you were immersed in another culture for awhile. You forget that these people are actors-- it's more like watching real sisters in real life. One also comes away wanting to visit rural Japan-- it was refreshing to see more of the countryside as opposed to the large cities with all the congestion and crowding. All in all, if you are looking for a movie that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy at its conclusion, look no further-- "Our Little Sister" is an excellent film and I highly recommend it!
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