In his film “Perfect Days,” Wim Wenders delves into the peaceful existence of a person living in Tokyo.

Estimated read time 2 min read


Wenders and Takasaki collaborated on a new movie, which follows a bittersweet and eccentric character in Tokyo. The film’s climax features a long shot of the protagonist’s face, capturing a mix of emotions. Cinematographer Lustig captures some beautiful moments during the magical hours, using the traditional “Academy” frame.

Hirayama, portrayed by Koji Yakusho (known for playing in Shohei Imamura’s The Eel), is a man in his middle years who works as a cleaner for toilets. He calmly travels from one job to another in his van, enjoying classic rock and pop music on old-fashioned cassette tapes such as Patti Smith, the Kinks, and, fittingly, Lou Reed. Upon arriving at each location, he puts on a jumpsuit and proceeds to efficiently clean with his brushes and mop.

Using a handheld mirror, he must inspect the area under the toilet and behind the urinals for any unpleasant discoveries. However, he never comes across anything terrible and the toilets are always in decent condition. During his lunch break, he enjoys reading and capturing images of trees, while remaining open-minded towards whatever he encounters. He has a special admiration for the city’s iconic “Skytree” tower. Hirayama also has a naive and untrustworthy assistant who serves to highlight his patient and composed nature.

Who is Hirayama? His modest and austere living space is filled with literature, music recordings, and boxes of photographs. It is evident that he is a highly intelligent and refined individual who may have once held a high social standing but has now chosen a monk-like lifestyle, possibly to escape personal suffering. Clues to his past begin to surface when he peeks into a certain bar, and also when his sophisticated niece (Arisa Nakano) comes to visit, bringing with her the unexpected visit from his sister, who informs him of their father’s ongoing dementia and is taken aback by Hirayama’s current profession.

Perfect Days has a kind of ambient urban charm and Yakusho anchors the film with his understated wisdom and presence: rightly, Wenders doesn’t reveal too much too early about his hero and doesn’t try to tie everything up too neatly. But I found something a little too subdued in this film, though the evocation of Tokyo itself is very uncliched, despite the emphasis on something that is the subject of so many touristy jokes: the loos. Not perfect, but engaging enough.


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