Wim Wenders hits the sweet spot with this deceptively simple character study chronicling the daily life of a Tokyo cleaner, which is emotionally resonant in its stunning attention to detail and filmic poetry.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
“Hirayama rises from his bachelor futon, goes to work, cleans the city’s conveniences with a dignified gusto, then relaxes in his spare time with a visit to the baths or a beer in his favorite bar. At night he reads, or sometimes he sorts through the many abstract photographs he takes while working his shifts... Once Hirayama’s routine is established, Wim Wenders’ small but wonderfully gentle drama starts to add random encounters that, while they don’t exactly shake his world from its axis, interfere with his ascetic way of life.
Working with screenwriter Takuma Takasaki, Wenders is concerned with the simple pleasures of life and the ripples caused by small gestures. Hirayama’s musical taste becomes key in this respect, and Wenders has a lot of fun with a soundtrack to Hirayama’s life that, one suspects, is actually the soundtrack to his own, with music from The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Nina Simone and—of course—Lou Reed, whose most famous song gives the film its title and appears in a lovely instrumental form.
The reason it works at all is down to the foxy, gracious Koji Yakusho, who commands the screen with a largely silent performance. His serenity is contagious, perfectly complementing Wenders’ minor-key direction and adding unexpected profundity to the film’s seemingly simple message: ‘The world is made of many worlds. Some are connected, and some are not’.” — Damon Wise, Deadline
“Almost four decades after retracing the footsteps of Ozu in the documentary Tokyo-Ga, Wenders returns to the Japanese capital to make his best narrative feature in years...The emotional tug of the movie is never obvious, mostly creeping up on you almost imperceptibly. The real reward of Perfect Days, however, is the accumulation of tiny details, tenderly observed fragments of a life that on their own seem inconsequential. When pieced together, they create a poetic, deeply moving account of the unexpected peace, harmony and contentment that one man has worked hard and made difficult decisions to attain.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter