Review of Perfect Days a thrilling film by Wim Wenders

Review of “Perfect Days”: a thrilling film by Wim Wenders

With The perfect daysWim Wenders offers us a perfect film, nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Film category, where he… represents Japan!

We no longer present Wim Wenders, German director, author of great films, now classics like “Paris, Texas”, “Wings of Desire” or “City of Angels”. This year, shortly after the release of his documentary “Anselm”, the almost octogenarian presents “The Perfect Days”, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, where he won the Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Best Actor Prize.

Hirayama (the extraordinary Koji Yakusho) cleans Tokyo's toilets, which were built by various renowned architects in the Shibuya district and are true works of art. Every morning, Hirayama gets up, looks up at the sky with a smile, carefully folds and puts away his tatami mat, brushes his teeth, buys a coffee, gets into his van and starts his work day. He carefully cleans every toilet in his care and has even made a small mirror to make sure everything is clean.

We never notice it or only notice it very little. However, he is aware of everything and everyone around him. About the lost child looking for his mother, or the working man eating his sandwich on a park bench, or the reflection of the sun through the leaves of the trees – called “Komorebi” in Japanese – that he photographs before he dreams of it. Hirayama is happy. He doesn't have much and doesn't want more. In his van he listens to old cassettes, Lou Reed, The Kinks, Otis Redding – all tunes that fit his journey against the flow of traffic on the highway that runs through Tokyo.

The countercurrent defines Hirayama. He enjoys his minimalism, surrounds himself with silence, shows kindness and serves the common good. His life could resemble that of a monk, with every gesture an excuse for a spontaneous meditation on the beauty of his life and the world around him. Perfect Days is not just contemplative; Wim Wenders gradually adds characters so that we can get to know Hirayama better. This is how we meet Takashi (Tokio Emoto), his young colleague, who sees existence only as a series of things to which he gives a series of stars, like websites where everything has a rating, Mama (Sayuri Ishikawa), the owner the restaurant where he has regular customers or even this homeless man (Min Tanaka) who he keeps an eye on every day. And there is Niko (Arisa Nakano), his niece, who seeks refuge with him for a few days.

Make no mistake, “Perfect Days” is not a feel-good film in the traditional sense. It is a film with delicate, fragile charm and beauty that restores faith in humanity. And that is great cinema.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Perfect Days lights up Montreal cinemas starting February 16th and cinemas across the province starting February 24th.