Opening 21 Dec 2023
Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho) is a professional cleaner of public toilets in Tokyo. His days are repetitive, but he seems to be content and take joy from the simplicity of his life. Although his job is relatively simple, he is exacting in his cleaning, even using a mirror to check under the toilets. During his breaks he takes photos of trees and on his commute, he listens to classic rock on cassettes. The minimalism of his life is only shaken by those around him, such as his unreliable colleague Takashi (Tokio Emoto).
Through the repetitive scenes of Hirayama completing similar tasks every day, we begin to slowly learn more about the man’s character. He lives a monkish life, but is well-read, enjoys nature, and maybe has a bit of a tragic past? None of this would work without the deft hand of Wim Wenders’ direction and the exceptional capability of Kôji Yakusho to show minute emotional changes in his expression. Hirayama is not a particularly effusive person, so it is particularly impressive that Yakusho was able to make the character so sympathetic and interesting. While Perfect Days is certainly slow and ponderous, this understated slice-of-life film gives perspective and dignity to its characters and is a fascinating look at a man’s melancholic and yet rich life. (Rose Finlay)