|(Picture used from http://asianwiki.com/Our_Little_Sister)|
I recently watched a Japanese movie called Our Little Sister, the English title from Umimachi Diary, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2015. It is based from a manga by the same name created by Akimi Yoshida. The movie falls under the slice of life genre, where for the most part, it is devoid of unnecessary drama that many other movies try to create their story around. I actually like the slower pace that the director took in making the movie as the cinematography is really nice. It allows the viewers to take in the sights and admire the surroundings.
Before I get ahead of myself, the story focuses on three sisters: the oldest sister, Sachi Kouda (played by Haruka Ayase), the middle sister, Yoshino Kouda (played by Masami Nagasawa), and the youngest sister, Chika Kouda (played by Kaho). They live together who have inherited the house from their grandmother. Their parents divorced due to their father having an affair, and he left them. Their mother left them alone soon after and it's been 15 years since those days. They heard the news that their father passed away, and Sachi tells her younger sisters to go and pay their respect. They meet their half-sister, Suzu Asano (played by Suzu Hirose), who is 14 years old, and had taken care of their father until he died. Sachi decides to take her in since she doesn't have a home anymore as both of her parents are gone. Her mother is actually the woman that caused the breakup of the 3 older sister's family. What I like about the story is that they could have made a big deal with the drama, but it has been 15 years in the story so they've all grown up. In the movie, the youngest sister said she can't even remember their father that well which goes to show that there is no reason to blame Suzu for what her mother did. Besides, it would be unfair to place the blame on Suzu as she wasn't even born at the time. The only big drama was when Sachi, Yoshino and Chika's mother came for their grandmother's memorial. Even then, it resolved relatively quickly and the movie went forward from there.
The story focuses on the four sisters and living together for the duration of one year in the movie. At first, Suzu holds back her feelings from her half-sisters, but slowly opens up to them. They really grow together as a family. It's really nice to see their development throughout the year and the subtle changes over time to how they interact with one another much like in real life. The characters feel real much what you might find in reality. I found the actors to have done really well, and I really liked the main cast (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, and Suzu Hirose). The chemistry between the actors balance well between the four of them.
As I said earlier, I thought the cinematography was well done and showcase the beauty of the town, scenery, and surroundings. I really liked the middle part of the movie and the way it was shot with the cherry blossoms on the bike. The music was good and it fit the scene and the emotions that the director wanted to portray. But it seems a bit light and in the background. I mean to say that I didn't find any particular memorable songs after watching the movie. It did its job in playing during the scenes in the background.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a must watch as I really like watching the four main actresses in the movie. I watched their other drama TV shows and movies so it was an obvious decision to make for me. But as a movie though, I do recommend checking it out if you like a slow pace, relaxing slice of life type of story.