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Artsy Fartsy Films Perfect Days: A Movie Review



Directed By: Wim Wenders


Streaming Service: N/A but can be seen at The Loft Cinema. You can purchase tickets here: https://loftcinema.org/showtimes/perfect-days/


Release Date: December 31, 2023


Rating: PG


Duration: 2 hours 3 minutes


Description: Hirayama works as a toilet cleaner in Tokyo. He seems content with his simple life. He follows a structured everyday life and dedicates his free time to his passion for music and books. Hirayama also has a fondness for trees and photographs them. More of his past is gradually revealed through a series of unexpected encounters.


 

First off, big thanks to George for hosting this screening of Perfect Days!

Second, spoiler warning? Maybe... I'm not really sure if it's possible to spoil this movie because of the nature of it. If you want to see it, refer to the link above and watch it first.


 

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this movie. I knew it was going to be a slice-of-life and that it was Japanese. I actually have high expectations for Japanese slice of life films because they always strike a nerve with me (refer to my review of Monster). With this one, I can truly say it was a slice-of-life where it was an actual real life.


We follow Hirayama, an older man who cleans Tokyo's public restrooms for a living. Side tangent - I couldn't help but be amazed by the public restrooms. All of them were very ornate and had very user friendly designs. Most - if not - all of them were disability accessible, had modern and clean toilets, and all were extremely private. I was also taken aback by how many there were. I'm always fighting for my life to find a public restroom out here (Downtown Dispensary I'm really mad at you I reeeallly had to go that time. I literally would have picked any other establishment if it wasn't that serious). Anyways, he cleans the same dozen toilets, all day, every day. The only thing that breaks up the monotony of it all is the various interactions he has with the public.



In one instance, he helps a foreigner figure out to use these super futuristic bathrooms (they're completely clear but fog up to give you privacy by locking the door) in another, his coworker's girlfriend shows up and asks to borrow his car, in another time, he finds a slip of paper with an unfinished tic-tac-toe game. Over the course of 2 weeks he ends up finishing the game with the stranger (the result was actually really sweet so I won't spoil that).



As charming as these interactions are, there are a few sour ones. In one instance, he finds a toddler in one of the restrooms and stops to find the kid's parents. Hirayama eventually finds the parent however, the parent doesn't even acknowledge Hirayama and proceeds to wipe the kids hands down with a Clorox right in front of him. Real long way to say you think Hirayama is dirty and not worthy of respect. In another instance, (for context) Hirayama eats lunch in the same park all of the time. This business lady also eats lunch at this park. She has a massive staring problem. It was really off putting. Maybe she has something to say but maybe don't stare at people was eating a sandwich menacingly.


Overall, you get the idea. The movie is rather repetitive and monotonous on purpose. I personally categorize this movie as a movie about nothing - which is not a bad thing. I really feel like it made the small diversions much more impactful. We as the audience experience life through his eyes but also as a passerby.


This movie reminded me a lot of a custodian in my life. I live on campus and my building has a main custodian. I really like her a lot and I do enjoy talking to her every now and again. This movie made me realize that I might be breaking up the monotony of her life (not saying that in a "oh I'm so important" kind of way but rather in a "wow, I actually impact other people's lives" kind of way). I guess that's a really nice take away to have.


 

Side note: There are a lot of books and songs referenced in this movie. There is literally no music at all in this movie besides the songs played by the characters in the film. Additionally, some of the books mentioned play a role in the story. I meticulously compiled them while watching the film only to find out there is an official site with all of them, so here's that:



 

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. Did I like it enough to watch it again, probably not. Like I mentioned before, as a viewer we were living his life along with him. There was a bit of magic in wondering what would happen for him that day. I also appreciate the fact that it did leave an impression on me. It was deeply relatable and moving, his wins felt like my wins. All of the characters were lovable despite only being around for so long, and the small interactions felt really lively. I - in the words of Takashi - give it an 8 out of 10.

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