When three sisters become four, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister is a homely rumination on family and female friendship.
Little Womenby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
After his delicate unravelling of skewed family dynamics in Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Koreeda returns to the awkwardnesses of family life with Our Little Sister, the story of three adult sisters who adopt their unknown half-sister when their father dies. Cut off from a wayward mother and their now late, once absent, philandering father, the four women live alone in a big, rickety old house of repaired shoji screens, fruit-bearing plum trees and a notched wooden beam, that marks the girls’ heights from throughout their childhoods. And as such, Our Little Sister works on an allegorical level – the estranged inheritors of a very personal history and an unfashionably old-fashioned tradition. With their house suddenly at risk from being sold off from underneath them in exchange for a swanky new condo when their mother comes to visit, it’s a vulnerable legacy, furthered by the closure of their local restaurant, when the owner’s brother forces a sale. But as Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chika (Kaho) negotiate their fledgling relationship with half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose) or reconcile their feelings to their mother and father, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister reveals a gentle study of understanding and forgiveness. It’s beautifully shot and cleverly plotted, but too sweet and simplistic to reach the depths of Like Father, Like Son. Nevertheless, as a microcosm of almost exclusively female relationships, Our Little Sister embarks very quietly, and very politely, on a glorious revolution.
Our Little Sister is now showing at the London Film Festival