Monday 20 May 2024

Mubi Monday: Perfect Days (2023)

I am quite the fan of director Wim Wenders, or so it would appear whenever I check out how I have rated some other titles in his filmography. I never rush to seek out his work though. He crafts takes that I know I have to be in the right mood for. But when everything aligns, oh boy, I certainly end up having a great time. Perfect Days is another successful feature from him, and it is another one I delayed watching until I felt the time was just right.

The plot is very simple. We see the life of Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho), a man who works as a cleaner in the public toilets of Tokyo. That doesn’t define him, but he takes pride in his work. Hirayama also enjoys reading, music, and spending time with a niece who comes to visit him. There’s a sense that this man has had difficult times in his past, or maybe I am projecting, and his habits and comforts are now so ingrained in him that he is impervious to criticism, or even just being viewed negatively by anyone else.

Inspired to make this after being invited along to see the results of the Tokyo Toilet Project, with people thinking that Wenders may make a short film, or series of shorts, about the redesigned facilities, Wenders and co-writer Takuma Takasaki did themselves, and Tokyo, a big favour by constructing a delicate narrative around such a beautiful soul of a main character. Whether accompanied by the sounds of his work, the silence of his own company, or a selection of classic songs, Hirayama is a captivating, and somehow joyful, presence.

There are other people onscreen here, and they all impact the life of Hirayama to varying degrees, but the focus stays very much on our lead at all times. We see him observing others around him, and we see how others view him (and how those views change as they realise how unwavering he is in his approach to every day). The casting is vital, and Yakusho is exceptional as the strong and steady heart of the film. Nobody disappoints, nobody rings any false notes, but they are all helped enormously by orbiting around Yakusho.

If there was any way to improve this then I cannot think of it. The 124-minute runtime passed by quickly enough, every supporting character had one wonderful moment, the soundtrack is full of treats, and there’s even a strange calming effect that comes from someone doing their work so diligently, not to mention the fact that it’s always intriguing to see the advanced Japanese toilet tech that has still not made it over here to the UK.

I hate to end with an obvious statement, but Perfect Days is pretty much a perfect film. If I didn’t have other things to do today then I would probably rewatch it immediately.


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  1. So this isn't ani-MAY-tion then, I take it?

    I heard the term "nicecore" in regards to Chris Pine's "Poolman" and this seems like something in that area of focusing on a nice guy and nothing too dramatic. I could really use him to come to my apartment and fix the 50-year-old toilet in there.

    1. Yeah, I have limited ani-MAY-tion options when it comes to Mubi and Shudder (and even on Amazon Prime). Other animated features currently available on there have already been reviewed either here or over when I used to write for Flickfeast.

      I am keen to see Poolman, and Pine has been coming across well in the promo appearances he has been doing for it (he had a great conversation with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast).