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Perfect Days

Hirayama lives a quiet and content life cleaning public toilets and taking delight at the small things he encounters each day.

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With PERFECT DAYS, Wim Wenders returns to the beginning of his filmography. PERFECT DAYS has many parallels with Wender’s first feature SUMMER IN THE CITY (1970), which can’t be screened outside of festivals because Wender’s has no license for the pop soundtrack. Both films are about lonely men who seem to have a sad past which has led them to a specific place – in SUMMER IN THE CITY it’s Berlin, wandering aimlessly, in PERFECT DAYS it’s Tokyo, cleaning toilets – but almost nothing is said. In SUMMER IN THE CITY, Hans (Hans Zischler) walks along the Landwehrkanal listening to The Lovin’ Spoonful song which the film is named after, in PERFECT DAYS, Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho) goes to Tokyo with a pickup truck while he listens to songs by Lou Reed, The Animals, Otis Redding, The Kinks, Van Morrison, and Nina Simone.

There’s an important difference between the film from 1970 and the one from 2023: Hans in SUMMER IN THE CITY is escaping, like many of Wenders’ protagonists. Hirayama seems to have settled into his life as a toilet cleaner. He leads a lonely, but satisfied life of routine. He wakes up, showers, takes care of his collection of small trees, puts on his boiler suit and smiles at the sky because he gets a canned coffee from the vending machine and drives to work. He cleans the public bathrooms of Tokyo with dedication and precision. The bathrooms themselves are spectacular and designed with the care that is given to memorials, bishop’s seats, opera houses, and museums in the best of case in this country. There are transparent toilets in shimmering red, orange, and purple that turn opaque once the door is locked. There are spiral high tech toilets with wonderful metal lamellas on the exterior. There are toilets decorated with sawed off tree discs, more beautiful than the most highly regarded luxury hotels in Berlin. In Wender’s earlier films – SUMMER IN THE CITY, ALICE IN THE CITIES, KINGS OF THE ROAD – there was this casual documentary aspect: a tracking shot along Kurfürstendamm, drives along the Wuppertal suspension railway, the worker’s estates of the city, the “zonal border area“ between Lauenburg and Lüchow. This is contrasted with the glamorous public face of Tokyo - exemplified by the care with which the "lowest" places in the city are designed and with which Hirayama cleans them, with Hirayama's small, winding apartment, with the food stall in a run-down subway station, with an old bathhouse where he regularly goes after work.

While the first half hour of the film barely contains dialogue and Wenders simply follows Hirayama’s everyday – which is fascinating enough – later on there are several encounters that lead to small episodes which show Hirayama’s character more sharply. His young colleague has a date with a young barmaid. His scooter breaks down, and so Hirayama has to drive them both and listens to Patti Smith’s “Redondo Beach“ with them, a song about the suicide of a young woman on the beach, told from the perspective of her sister or girlfriend. Hirayama’s niece suddenly appears sitting on the stairs; she ran away from home. A man, who Hirayama saw hugging the hostess of a bar restaurant where he eats on the weekend, talks to him by the river where Hirayama is drinking a beer.

PERFECT DAYS is (almost) a kind of closing film of Wender’s big theme of lost men who are searching for something. Hirayama seems to have arrived where he is.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Japan/Deutschland 2023, 123 min
Language: Japanese, English
Genre: Drama
Director: Wim Wenders
Author: Wim Wenders, Takuma Takasaki
DOP: Franz Lustig
Montage: Toni Froschhammer
Distributor: DCM Film Distribution
Cast: Kôji Yakusho, Arisa Nakano, Tokio Emoto, Yumi Aso, Tomokazu Miura
Release: 21.12.2023

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Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
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  • OmU Original with German subtitles
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Perfect Days

Japan/Deutschland 2023 | Drama | R: Wim Wenders

Hirayama lives a quiet and content life cleaning public toilets and taking delight at the small things he encounters each day.

Screenings

Friedrichshain

b-ware! ladenkino

Sunday 28.04.

TicketsBuy Tickets OmeU12:45

Tuesday 30.04.

TicketsReservation: https://www.kinoheld.de/Kino-Berlin/b-ware%21%20Ladenkino OmeU15:15

Neukölln

Rollberg

Saturday 27.04.

TicketsReservation: https://www.yorck.de/kinos/rollberg OmeU14:00

Sunday 28.04.

TicketsReservation: https://www.yorck.de/kinos/rollberg OmeU14:00

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