Yesterday afternoon, I saw Umimachi Diary in original version with subtitles. I love the Japanese culture, the cute and melodious Nippon language, gastronomy and the magnificent landscapes of Japan. Here is my review of a beautiful and moving movie!
Umimachi Diary is a Japanese dramatic comedy directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda with Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose. This is adapted from a paper manga. The film was released in France on October 28, 2015.
What’s the story? Three sisters, Sachi, Yoshino and Chika, live together in Kamakura. By duty, they go to the funeral of their father who had abandoned them fifteen years before. They then meet their half-sister Suzu who is fourteen years old. By mutual agreement, the young women decide to host the orphan in the family house…
Family is a crucial theme for Hirokazu Kore-eda. The story begins with a tragedy (the death of an absent and unfaithful father) that will upset the balance of a sibling. Despite several funerals in the film, Umimachi Diary is not a maudlin movie. Tragedies are not the main subject of the movie.
Umimachi diary is rather a praise of tenderness and blended family, composed especially of love between sisters. Despite the scrapes of the past, the family home remains a safe haven, a united home. The three sisters might be adults, have a job and a love life, they continue to live together. The old house looks like a real gynaeceum and honor Japanese traditions, creating a contrast with the modernity of the city. The eldest has the role of head of household. She is the one who cooks, buys food, does the laundry and watches over her sisters. The cult of ancestors is respected, the girls thank God at the beginning of each meal, make their own family plum brandy, respect the elders and wear a kimono for the festival of fireworks.
This does not prevent them to be modern. Sachi is the eldest, she seems to be the most serious of the girls but she is the one who has an affair with a married man. Yoshino is the most emancipated and the most coquettish among the three sisters. We see her go home in the early morning after spending the night with her boyfriend and she is the one who invites him in the restaurant. Chika is the most ingenuous but she dates a former mountainer who has an Afro hairstyle. She is always hungry and makes her minor half-sister drunk. Despite her look of good little girl, Suzu is a formidable football player in the mixed team of her school and she is not afraid of getting dry naked in front of the outside ventilator!
The film offers us a beautiful palette of everyday family moments, makes us salivate with an incredible number of scenes where the characters eat delicious food, and it amazes us with a tunnel of cherry blossom and a firework lighted on a boat. There are not a lot of twists. The film is more an invitation to discover the unvarnished lives in a family of charming and endearing girls. This is enough to infuse the magic in this story full of authenticity, sincerity and tenderness.