Resentment among loved ones is often misplaced or calculating. How are we supposed to surmise the bitterness or indignation found between family when we cannot ask them upfront? It is different to falling out with friends or colleagues, for we do not share our entire lives with them. Some of us do with parents and siblings. Still Walking shows those tensions bubbling to the surface, a reunion twelve years after the tragic passing of a selfless brother, who drowned whilst saving a stranger. Even after a decade has passed, the grief lingers, and the pointed fingers of blame begin to accuse and assault a once tightly-knit family. Of course it is the great Hirokazu Kore-eda behind this beautiful misery.
To be still presents the sense that these characters are in silence, unmoved as life passes them by. That does not appear to be the case, for Ryota Yokoyama (Hiroshi Abe) and his family are still walking. As best they can, they are picking up the fragments of life and piecing together a remainder worth living. With Kore-eda’s writing, there is often beauty where, in reality, there is no feeling at all. He presents a credible sense of animosity and angst between a family who were closer before than they are now. That is the downfall of tragedy, seems to be the message Still Walking wishes to present. Healing and growing, learning and loving from moments of catastrophe is not always the option, and it is not for the outcast Ryota, who fears resentment from his parents and siblings.
Taking his themes in such a raw form, Kore-eda presents a wounded family that are still reeling from the loss of their seemingly favourite son. Their surviving children do not appear to have much to say to them, for they have their own grief and regrets to deal with. An animosity is presented between generations, and Still Walking overcomes this with intimate camera angles. We are in the house alongside this family, sharing their glimmers of happiness, as well as their inevitably harsh falling outs and misgivings. Kyohei (Yoshio Harada) and Ryoto have the odd moment of passion with one another, but the father and son bond is fractured and mired by a disengaged love between the two. There is resentment and spite on the mind of Ryoto, projecting that as the feelings of his father when it is never explicitly denounced or approved as what his father truly believes.
Still Walking prods and weasels its way into my own fears of mortality. They are something I had initially made peace with, but that velvet curtain of darkness will pounce on me soon enough. “I have a feeling my time could be up any day now.” says the neighbour of Kyohei. I feel the same, weirdly enough, yet the age gap of a couple decades is obvious. Kore-eda manages to write characters through several generations that feel and inspire the same feelings as one another. They are ageless, and his writing and craft in Still Walking is timeless because of it.