Wim Wenders and writer-director Takuma Takasaki collaborate on a bittersweet, quirky-Zen character study set in Tokyo. The film finds its resonance in the final extended shot of the protagonist’s face, oscillating between happiness and sadness, capturing a moment of profound introspection. Cinematographer Franz Lustig contributes stunning magic-hour scenes, filmed within the boxy “Academy” frame, adding visual depth to the narrative.
Koji Yakusho, known for his role in Shohei Imamura’s “The Eel,” portrays Hirayama, a middle-aged man working as a toilet cleaner. Serenely driving from job to job in his van, he immerses himself in classic rock and pop tunes on old-school audio cassettes, including tracks from Patti Smith, the Kinks, and Lou Reed, as hinted by the film’s title. Despite the mundane nature of his work, Hirayama approaches each task with matter-of-fact efficiency, maintaining a peaceful demeanor throughout.
Intriguingly, Hirayama’s character remains enigmatic. His spartan apartment, filled with books, music cassettes, and boxes of his photographs, suggests a complex inner life. The arrival of his cool niece and an encounter with his sister shed light on his past and personal struggles, hinting at his retreat from societal expectations and perhaps past trauma.
“Perfect Days” exudes an ambient urban charm, anchored by Yakusho’s understated wisdom and presence. Wenders delicately unveils Hirayama’s story, avoiding neat resolutions and allowing the narrative to unfold organically. While the film’s subdued tone may not appeal to all viewers, its nuanced portrayal of Tokyo offers a refreshing departure from clichés. Despite its imperfections, “Perfect Days” remains an engaging exploration of introspection and acceptance.