A Simple & Sincere Drama About The Beauty Of Everyday Life

By z20z.com 6 Min Read

Summary

  • In
    Perfect Days,
    Hirayama finds beauty in the simplicity of his routine, but also cherishes unexpected moments that disrupt it.
  • Despite his isolation, Hirayama feels connected to the world through his love of nature and his role in the larger whole.
  • The film contrasts the peacefulness of nature with the busy cityscape of Tokyo, showcasing the serenity of Hirayama’s perspective.


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Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho) wakes up with the Tokyo dawn, the sky as purple as the ultraviolet light that nourishes his plants and illuminates his modest apartment. His routine is a meticulous one — he goes to work cleaning public restrooms of the city, bathes in a public bathhouse, eats dinner at one of a few regular spots, and goes on. Perfect Days is engrossing in its monotony and fascinating when something disrupts it, a portrait of a simple but beautiful existence that serves as a life-affirming reminder to value the little moments as much as we do the monumental ones.


Perfect Days is a drama film that initially premiered in 2023 and was directed by Wim Wenders. A janitor in Tokyo, Hirayama’s life seems to be all in place, with simple hobbies and a profound love of nature. Perfect Days examines the life of a man captivated by the beauty of the world.

Pros
  • Perfect Days beautifully captures everyday life
  • The director’s vision is masterful and serene
  • The film offers lovely contrasts while exploring Hirayama’s peace


Hirayama loves routine, but, even though he feigns resentment, he might love it even more when something interrupts it. As much as he relishes the beauty of sameness, he also loves the ways unexpected things show themselves. The way pedestrians’ shirt colors reflect on the metallic surface of the public restroom wall he’s just cleaned, or the woman also eating lunch alone, a reflection of his own solitude. An unexpected passenger singing along to “Redondo Beach” by Patti Smith or a sudden visitor who charms his rowdy coworker.


Perfect Days Is A Melancholic Slice-Of-Life Portrait


Hirayama’s life is juxtaposed against these small, unexpected revelations. The young coworker he cleans toilets with, Takashi (Tokio Emoto), initially seems abrasive and oblivious. He cleans toilets with one hand while looking at something on his phone in another, and he comments on how Hirayama takes his job too seriously. Takashi begs him for money when a date begins to go south, but Hirayama hardly utters a word to him, even when he’s asked, out of the blue, “Are you lonely?”

Hirayama’s connection to the world is more profound than anything else in his life… He is part of a whole and that is enough for him.


Loneliness doesn’t seem like something Hirayama considers, though. He doesn’t center himself in his own life that way — he sees a bigger world that he is a part of, an all-encompassing beauty that couldn’t possibly leave him lonely even if he barely exchanges two words with another person each day. Hirayama’s connection to the world is more profound than anything else in his life — he takes pictures of the trees with a film camera, and he tends to the tiny garden in his home. He is part of a whole and that is enough for him.

Perfect Days Finds Small Ways To Make A Meaningful Impact

hirayama-bathes-in-perfect-days
Kōji Yakusho in Perfect Days. 


A visit from Hirayama’s niece Niko (Arisa Nakano) and, eventually, his sister, alludes to something deeper behind his isolation. It may be more of a necessity, a survival tactic, than just a mere preference. That Hirayama gets to spend a day with his young niece shows the kind of man he could be without the weight of solitude. Even then, this is not enough to consider abandoning it. If anything, it reaffirms the life he’s made for himself: “Next time is next time,” Hirayama tells Niko, “Now is now.”


Early in the film, Wenders shoots the tops of trees from below, showing their canopies as they grow around each other, a phenomenon known as crown shyness. Hirayama often looks up at these trees, taking pictures of them, stealing glances while he’s riding his bike or eating his lunch. Much of the film contrasts these views of nature with the cityscapes of Tokyo, its neon-lit concrete and its orange-hued streetlamps. It’s in all of this that Hirayama finds peace in a world that may look bleak. Hirayama’s joy — and Yakusho’s subtle sincerity — make Wenders’ vision feel masterfully serene.


Perfect Days

is now playing in select theaters.


Perfect Days

Director
Wim Wenders

Cast
Kôji Yakusho , Tokio Emoto , Arisa Nakano , Aoi Yamada , Yumi Asô

Runtime
123 Minutes

Writers
Takuma Takasaki , Wim Wenders

Distributor(s)
Mubi

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