Perfect Days review – Wim Wenders explores a quiet life in Tokyo

Bittersweet tale of an apparently contented toilet cleaner has an ambient urban charm, but feels a little too understated

Wim Wenders’s new film, co-scripted by him with writer-director Takuma Takasaki, is a bittersweet quirky-Zen character study set in Tokyo which only comes fully to life in the final extended shot of the hero’s face, drifting back and forth between happiness and sadness. There are some lovely magic-hour scenes from cinematographer Franz Lustig, shooting in the boxy “Academy” frame.

Hirayama, played by Koji Yakusho (from Shohei Imamura’s The Eel) is a middle-aged man employed as a toilet cleaner, who drives around serenely from job to job in his van, listening to classic rock and pop on old-school audio cassettes: Patti Smith, the Kinks and of course, given the title, Lou Reed. At each location, he changes into a jumpsuit and with his brushes and mop matter-of-factly gets on with the job in hand.

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