At the heart of the film is an old house: a sprawling family home in an almost unfeasibly picturesque seaside town. It’s in this house that three adult sisters, Sachi, Yoshino and Chika, live together following their parents' divorce. It’s a strange and beguiling place, and the sisters seem frozen in time, caught between the security of the family life and the responsibilities of adulthood.
At the beginning of the film, the trio attend their father’s funeral where they meet Suzu, the half-sister they never knew they had. It’s here that the story begins in earnest; Suzu returns home with them and is gradually drawn into the rhythms of their life. The film progresses at an unhurried pace (to put it mildly), following the sisters at home and at work, allowing a web of fears, rivalries and, above all, affections to slowly spin.
While the film is named for Suzu, it’s Sachi who comes closest to being its central character. Played to perfection by Haruka Ayase, she’s the de facto head of the family. There’s a toughness to her, and you can see why; following her parent’s marital breakdown, she was left to care for her sisters. But below this façade of stability is a fear of moving on, and a dependence on an established role within the family. All this, as much in the film, is revealed with masterful subtlety.
It’s to the cast and crew’s credit, though, that no character comes to dominate the film. Many of its most affecting moments, from the shared meals that punctuate the story to the firework display towards it close, are ensemble performances. There will be those who complain that the film is languid, and others who suggest that it strays too often into saccharine territory. But it’s so beautifully shot and carefully assembled that you can forgive it these shortcomings.
It's easy to get lost in the film's rich palette, but if you're looking for a yet more immersive experience, make sure to book for Curzon Bloomsbury's Edible Cinema event.
|What||Our Little Sister film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
15 Apr 16 – 15 May 16, Event times vary
|Price||£detemined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to visit the film's IMDB page|