When a story is not pertinent to where the characters go, it frees up new journeys for a cast who live comfortable lives. Hirokazu Kore-eda is a master of this. He brings with him the opportunity to experience life and its innocence with many of his features. Our Little Sister has no conceivable point or story, it is just the ructions of a family we will never see or hear from outside of these well-considered two hours. They are not doing anything of particular interest, nor are they experiencing a journey unique to them. A broad stroke of life conducted with versatility and passion that open its amicable, relaxed stories up to an audience.
That is often the reason Kore-eda films work so effectively. We are dropped into the lives of others and have no need to attach ourselves. Kore-eda knows this, and applies his skills as an emotive director to not challenge the audience, but coax them into caring for characters we will not see again. His role is not just as a director, but as a connector. We are the fly on the wall for the lives of these people, and Our Little Sister is broad enough to have moments an audience can cling to, for they might have experienced it themselves. Death, parental conflict and the bond between siblings are on display, as usual, but they are shown as everyday components of life, rather than dramatic choices made in the spur of the moment.
Perhaps the greatest draw of Our Little Sister is how natural its conflict shines through. A gentle nature washes over the feature, and with it comes an objectively calming feeling, despite conflict rising between this once closely-knit family unit. They have been knocked around with the highs and lows of life, and there are times within Kore-eda’s well-paced piece that feel cathartic for both audience and director. Sentimental notions and offerings from one sister to another take control of the narrative. Woven with such passion, it is no surprise that the family found within are so delightful to spend time with. We can take comfort in their highs and feel moved by their lows, and the reason for this, primarily, is how well this director understands the impact of life and all its intricate simplicities.
Kore-eda has always had a grasp on family conflict. There will always be love present between the warring parties, no matter how fractured it is. Our Little Sister is a film about nothing. It plants us deep in the roots of a family with issues they have overcome through love and hate. We are not witnessing the after effect or the slow trickle to an inevitable explosion, those moments have passed. This is their new normal, and from the mundane comes extraordinarily touching moments. They are fluttering, brief, and beautiful. But that is the beauty of film. We get to experience the lives of others with no attachment, should we want to keep it that way. When the sole reason of Our Little Sister is to attach ourselves to these characters, it is hard not to fall into an interest in their lives and styles.