Renowned filmmaker Wim Wenders and writer-director Takuma Takasaki join forces in crafting a poignant and contemplative tale set amidst the bustling streets of Tokyo. Their collaboration births a bittersweet, quirky-Zen character study that delves deep into the human psyche. The film’s emotional core finds its resonance in the final extended shot, wherein the protagonist’s visage captures a kaleidoscope of emotions, reflecting a moment of profound introspection. Cinematographer Franz Lustig’s masterful use of magic-hour scenes, captured within the boxy “Academy” frame, adds a layer of visual richness, enhancing the narrative’s depth and texture.
Stepping into the role of Hirayama is Koji Yakusho, acclaimed for his performance in Shohei Imamura’s “The Eel.” As a middle-aged man navigating the mundane existence of a toilet cleaner, Hirayama traverses the cityscape in his van, accompanied by the timeless melodies of classic rock and pop echoing from old-school audio cassettes. The film subtly hints at his inner world through his eclectic musical choices, including tracks from Patti Smith, the Kinks, and Lou Reed, lending depth to his character.
Despite the simplicity of his profession, Hirayama approaches each task with a calm and matter-of-fact demeanor, finding solace in the routine. Yet, beneath the surface lies a complex individual, as evidenced by his spartan apartment filled with books, music cassettes, and boxes of photographs. His encounters with family members, particularly his cool niece and estranged sister, offer glimpses into his past and personal struggles, hinting at a retreat from societal expectations and unresolved traumas.
“Perfect Days” emanates an ambient urban charm, anchored by Yakusho’s understated wisdom and presence. Wenders skillfully peels back the layers of Hirayama’s story, eschewing neat resolutions in favor of a more organic narrative progression. While the film’s subdued tone may not resonate with all audiences, its nuanced portrayal of Tokyo offers a refreshing departure from clichés, capturing the city’s essence with authenticity. Despite its imperfections, “Perfect Days” stands as a compelling exploration of introspection, acceptance, and the human experience.