Umimachi Diary / Our Little Sister / 海街diary
Hirokazu Koreeda has always claimed that Naruse has been a larger influence on him than Ozu. Umimachi Diary belies that. Granted, the story’s about a set of sisters (the focus on women being more Naruse-like), but being set largely in Kamakura (Ozu’s town) and the gentle low-dramatic flow puts the film in Ozu-land. And the inspired casting of Lily Franky, in a small but important role, as a Chishu Ryu analogue, is an obvious homage to the master. The story follows a trio of sisters, 29-year-old Sachi (Haruka Ayase), 22-year-old Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and 19-year-old Chika (Kaho), who upon the death of their estranged father, finally connect with their young teen-aged half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose). They invite Suzu to come live with them and the film unfolds, showing their changing dynamics and relationships. The characters are a bit cliché – Sachi being a nurse/caregiver and the “strong” one, Yoshino being the mixed-up one and Chika being the happy-go-lucky Bohemian. But all the actors give their best, showing the subtle, yet rich, details of a family’s journey.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2015.