Film, Film Review, IFFBoston

IFFBOSTON FALL FOCUS REVIEW: Perfect Days (2023) Dir. Wim Wenders

You just keep me hanging on


Wim Wenders’ 2023 slow beauty Perfect Days is a revelation into how we spend our time, where we pay attention, and what it looks like to exist in the present. It requires long attentional devotion, fully utilizing the medium of film and the “slice of life” genre to emphasize the glistening, unmatched special of the present. 

Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho) starts every day by waking up at the same time. He gets a coffee from the vending machine and listens to an array of incredible music on a cassette tape in his car (“House of the Rising Sun,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” and “Redondo Beach,” to name a few). He then goes to work as a toilet cleaner in the city of Tokyo. His daily routine is laced with serendipitous interactions and sweet, funny moments of humanity. The chronology of his days is entrancing enough, demanding your entire attention in order to experience it fully. And upon his niece’s visit, the routine of Hirayama’s life becomes a more meaningful experience, as it is shared with someone else. She asks to tag along with him throughout his workday, and in sharing his daily experience with someone close to him, we are able to more clearly understand the importance of his regimens, the connections made throughout each day. 

Perfect Days requires a full immersion into Hirayama’s life in order to truly experience what it has to offer. The meditation on nostalgia and the examination of present and past is at its utmost efficacy when you are fully absorbed into it, and entranced by Hirayama’s regimental days. But Perfect Days is not exhausting or demanding; instead, it’s relaxing and a lovely depiction of routine, in all its simplicity and beauty. The subtle call to attention that the film serves as is also emblematic of the film’s thesis, in the least clichéd way possible, to exist in the present. Though Hirayama uses limited dialogue, one of his few lines is “Next time is next time. Now is now.” 

Slice of life films easily become lost within themselves, wrapped up in the life and not what it means. The ideal of the genre is to accurately and non-judgmentally exhibit a life, through one’s actions, interactions with others, and how this mirrors individual aspects of our own society. Perfect Days, in its depiction of Hirayama’s life and relationships with others, demonstrates beautifully the meaningful substance in routine, and all the ways that life is miraculous and serendipitous, in even the most minuscule of encounters. 

Though Perfect Days doesn’t have an egregiously long runtime, it still requires one’s full attention in a very slow film. The beauty it demonstrates, threaded throughout the monotony and routine, is absolutely worth the length and slow pace. Art is not solely entertainment, meant to appease short attention spans and always feel comfortable and digestible, and though Perfect Days is still entertaining, it is also an exercise of seeing beauty in monotony. It stretches and examines the bounds, and the power, of the film medium, reminding me only slightly of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria
Perfect Days fully seizes every aspect of film, from the narrative pacing, to drawn-out medium shots of Hirayama as he drives, and in the soundtrack with the song “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed cascading over one of Hirayama’s perfect days. The film is a keen examination into one man’s daily routine through the medium of film, done with so much intention and awareness towards being honest and meaningful. In the activity of watching the film and in all the narrative represents, the film emphasizes the power and importance of paying attention to the present, of the glimmers on the water and the potent colors of the sunset, moments of laughter with strangers and irony with friends, Perfect Days is a celebration of the miracle of all of it.

Perfect Days
dir. Wim Wenders
123 min.

Screened as part of IFFBoston’s 2023 Fall Focus series
Opens Thursday, 12/21

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