Thursday, September 14, 2023

Yui Kiyohara’s Remembering Every Night

It might be suburbia, but in this Japanese 'burb, the streets are clean, the neighborhoods are quiet, and the weather is sunny. The people you meet also tend to be friendly, gentle souls. If you are going to lose your way, this wouldn’t be such a bad place for it. A handful of characters will indeed get somewhat lost, as they crisscross each other’s paths, but the peaceful tone is constant throughout Yui Kiyohara’s Remembering Every Night, which opens tomorrow in New York.

Tama New Town was conceived as a commuter community for people working in Tokyo, so it probably is not the best place for the suddenly unemployed fortysomething Chizu to look for work. Her meeting at the unemployment office is a bit awkward, but she is probably more interested in reconnecting with the old friend she suddenly started thinking about. As she wanders around Tama’s verdant streets, she spies Natsu, a 22-year-old college student dancing in the park.

Natsu is also thinking of an old friend, Dai, who died tragically young. Eventually, she meets up with their mutual friend, Fumi, for a remembrance. Unlike the other two women, Sanae is working today. The 33-year-old’s meter reading job keeps her outside, walking through the neighborhood, which makes her the perfect person to keep an eye out for Takada-san, a senior citizen prone to confusion, who wandered away from his home.

There is almost no tension in Kiyora’s follow-up to
Our House (her charming postmodern multiversal family drama), not even Takada-san’s subplot. Remembering Every Night is definitely a thinner film, but its Japanese-ness makes it a pleasant, low-stress viewing experience.

Kumi Hyodo, Ai Mikami, and Minami Ohba are all quite charming as Chizu, Natsu, and Sanae, all in a very low-key way. Tadashi Okuno is also quite touching as the amiable but somewhat addled Takada-san. Everyone is very down-to-earth and realistic, but still easy to spend time with.

Remembering Every Night
is quietly appealing, but it lacks the depth of Our House. Clocking-in  at almost a full two hours, it also runs a little long. Nevertheless, Yukiko Iioka’s warm cinematography and the upbeat minimalist soundtrack composed by Jon no so and Asuna give the film an Ozu-like vibe the wears well from start to finish. Recommended for viewers in the mood for some niceness, Remembering Every Night opens tomorrow (9/15) in New York.