Perfect Days

Verdict: Perfect Days is quiet, slow-moving drama that reminds you to appreciate the little joys in life

Koji Yakusho plays a toilet cleaner in Tokyo who appreciates the little things in life.

A lot of cinema releases are big, loud, action-packed films, so Perfect Days offers something different in the form of a gentle and quiet story.

Wim Wenders’ latest film simply follows toilet cleaner Hirayama (Koji Yakusho) as he goes about his daily routine. He cleans the public bathrooms in the Shibuya district of Japan and feels a sense of pride in doing a thorough job, while his younger colleague Takashi (Tokio Emoto) chastises him for taking it so seriously.

Hirayama is just an ordinary man with a run-of-the-mill day – but that doesn’t make him any less worthy of being the lead character in a film. Perfect Days shows that everyone’s lives are interesting if we care to pay attention.

He is content with his repetitive routine and appreciates the little joys in life, like the sun on his face, hearing music from his cassette tapes or the discovery of a little plant. Watching him reminds you to take note of these things too.

His routine is disrupted when his niece Niko (Arisa Nakano) unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep. We finally get an insight into his past and understand him better plus the notoriously quiet man is forced to talk more and break his well-oiled pattern.

Her arrival signals a change of pace in the story; Hirayama’s life starts to go awry and he seems less at peace with his lot. Perhaps seeing his niece made him realise how lonely he had been and how much he missed companionship and human connection.

Yakusho was named Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance last year and deservedly so. It is so subtle, natural and realistic, it doesn’t feel like he’s acting at all. In fact, you could be watching a real person in a documentary! In one particularly memorable scene, he will blow you away with the different emotions that cross his face in the span of a car journey.

Perfect Days, a nominee for the Best International Feature Film Oscar, will not appeal to everybody because there isn’t much in the way of plot. We are merely a fly-on-the-wall observing Hirayama’s life. It might sound boring but it is far from it.

In cinemas from Friday 23rd March.

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