Perfect Days

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Perfect Days is a drama film of 2023 directed by Wim Wenders and starring Koji Yakusho. The film is set in Tokyo and tells the story of Hirayama, a middle-aged man who works as a public toilet cleaner.

Hirayama is a solitary and reserved man, but he has a great passion for his work. He believes that public toilets are important places, because they are places of meeting and sharing. For this reason, Hirayama carries out his work with great care and attention, trying to make the bathrooms as comfortable and welcoming as possible.

Perfect Days is a minimalist and poetic film, which explores the theme of the beauty of everyday life. The dream of the film is shot in an evocative black and white with an experimental cinema style, which helps to create an atmosphere of calm and tranquility with refined sound effects.

Hirayama’s character is one of the film’s strong points. Yakusho plays the character with great sensitivity and intensity, making him a real and believable character. Hirayama is a simple and ordinary man, but he is also a good and kind man, who finds beauty in small things.

Plot

Perfect-day

The film begins with an overview of Tokyo, a modern and frenetic city. In this context, Hirayama, a middle-aged man, carries out his work as a public toilet cleaner.

Hirayama is a solitary and reserved man, but he has a great passion for his work. He believes that public toilets are important places, because they are places of meeting and sharing. For this reason, Hirayama carries out his work with great care and attention, trying to make the bathrooms as comfortable and welcoming as possible.

Every day, Hirayama follows a very specific routine. He wakes up at dawn, gets ready carefully and goes to work. Upon his arrival, he begins cleaning the bathrooms with great meticulousness. He uses natural and biodegradable products, and pays attention to every detail.

Hirayama is a kind and thoughtful man. He also takes care of the plants that he has saved from the city’s carelessness. Plants are for him a symbol of beauty and hope.

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Production

Perfect-day

Perfect Days was produced in Japan. The film was directed by Wim Wenders, known for his poetic and minimalist films. The film was written by Wim Wenders and Takuma Takasaki, a Japanese producer. The film was shot in Tokyo, Japan.

The film has an international cast. Koji Yakusho, a Japanese actor, plays the role of Hirayama. Perfect Days premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or for Best Actor for Koji Yakusho and the Ecumenical Jury Award. The film was released in Japan on November 24, 2023.

Distribution

Perfect Days was released in Japan on November 24, 2023. The film was released in Germany on December 22, 2023. In Italy, the film was distributed by Lucky Red starting on January 4, 2024. The film was also released in other countries, including France, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Acknowledgments

Perfect Days has received numerous awards, including:

  • Palme d’Or for best actor to Koji Yakusho at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival
  • FIPRESCI Award at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival
  • Audience Award at the 2023 San Sebastián International Film Festival
  • Audience Award at the 2023 Tokyo International Film Festival

The film was also nominated for numerous other awards, including:

  • Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film
  • Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
  • BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Perfect Days is a film that has received numerous awards from critics and audiences. The film is a poetic and minimalist work, which explores the theme of the beauty of everyday life. The film is a hymn to kindness and compassion, and teaches us that it is possible to find happiness even in the simplest and most ordinary contexts. The film is also an exploration of the theme of loneliness. Hirayama is a lonely man, who has lost contact with his family and friends.

Director

Wim-Wenders

Wim Wenders is one of the most influential German directors, born in Düsseldorf in 1945. He is one of most important directors of contemporary cinema, and his works have been awarded numerous awards, including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984 for Paris, Texas and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2015 for Pina.

Wenders’ films are often characterized by a strong poetic component and a social sensitivity. His recurring themes are loneliness, alienation, the search for meaning in life and the beauty of nature.

Wenders began his film career in the 1970s, with films such as Alice in the Cities (1974) and The American Friend (1977). In the 1980s he made some of his most notable films, including Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire (1987) and Until the End of the World (1991). In the 1990s and 2000s he continued to make major films, including Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Land of Plenty (2004), and Pina.

Perfect Days is a film that fully falls within the poetics of Wim Wenders. The film is a delicate and sensitive work, which explores the theme of the beauty of everyday life. The film is a hymn to kindness and compassion, and teaches us that it is possible to find happiness even in the simplest and most ordinary contexts.

Review

by Fabio Del Greco

Seeing a film like Perfect Days in a plastic multiplex is a pleasant and absurd contradiction: after more than twenty minutes in which the intelligent spectator feels insulted by a shapeless mass of sugar-coated and complacent images, among grotesque commercials that try to suggest styles of life with persuasive and winking voices, and cloying trailers of films made in the same way, which seem to be aimed at an audience of idiots, the beginning of Wenders’ film is one of the most transgressive events one can witness in a cinema today .

The screen suddenly changes to four-thirds format. All the demented, bombastic and spectacular idiocy of a few seconds before is silent, and we begin to follow the intimate life of a silent middle-aged Japanese man, Hirayama. But what is a Wenders film doing in a theater of the large international multiplex chain?

Dreams, small daily gestures experienced in solitude. He who wakes up and puts away the futon in his humble home, brushes his teeth, waters the flowers. He who goes to work and crosses the city of Tokyo, he who cleans the public toilets of the metropolis. For the first twenty minutes of the film the protagonist doesn’t say a single word: the only one who speaks is his young and bizarre colleague, excited about the appointment with the one he hopes will become his future girlfriend.

Every day Hirayama observes the reflections of the sky in mid-morning, takes a photo towards the sky to immortalize the trees swaying in the wind above him. He crosses the city at sunset, listens to music on old audio cassettes, goes to wash in a public bathroom, then has dinner in the usual place where he is well received by the waiter who repeats, giving him the iced drink, “for you, after a tiring day! ”

Perfect Days by Wim Wenders is the exact opposite of the Hollywood concept of cinema: a radically anti-spectacular Zen film, where apparently nothing happens and instead everything possible happens. Perfect Days is an insult, a mockery of the concept of mainstream cinema, the most extreme transgression of the contemporary film industry. Especially the one that awards films on Oscar night that look like video games for slightly stupid kids.

And it is probable, very probable, I bet, that Perfect Days will be awarded at the Oscars, because it is a film that really scares those who control the cinema business of propaganda, and must somehow be controlled, incorporated, put on the list of winners.

This way it will be easy to confuse things again, to say that the system loves the art cinema intimate. Indeed: the system fights for it, works to promote and celebrate it. Thus, in the average spectator, cognitive dissociation will still lead to great mental confusion, and he will return to being a faithful follower once again, after having had the suspicion that, in the face of so much artistic mediocrity, it was time to move on.

The system actually deeply hates films like Perfect Days: a realist, life-celebrating film that seems like a sister work to Jim Jarmush’s Patterson, albeit with a completely different vision of life. While in Patterson a very small and thin narrative structure was identifiable, here, until the end of the film, the structure seems completely absent.

While Patterson is a film with a certain figurative care in Perfect Days Wenders totally doesn’t care. The shots are bad, the photography for most of the film is not accurate. The director limits himself to filming reality with absolute fidelity, immortalizing it even in its ugliness. There is no photographic and scenographic packaging in this film. The exact opposite of what he obsessively does Hollywood: making films that only have beautiful packaging, that are attractive and colorful “empty boxes”.

There is apparently no twist to start the plot of the film, and for the entire first part no significant event occurs that changes the protagonist’s life in a dramatic way, as audiences in search of an adrenaline fix like. Time simply passes in its serene solitude, day after day, dream after dream, image after image.

Everything flows, like the music that marks the time and the emotions of the protagonist, song after song, timeless songs recorded on old analogue magnetic tapes which, in a world where the new generations are inside the “digital trap”, are sold from collectors at high prices in the suburbs of Tokyo. Simply music and images without dialogue, as Federico Fellini often declared that he wanted to make a film one day. The perfect and essential form of Cinema.

We will have to wait for the final part to see a change in Harayama, which however occurs exclusively in his interior and emotional life. And this final change also reveals to us what the twist was that we waited for in vain at the beginning and which was hidden deep in the narrative.

The film’s main scene is still an example of the simplicity and magic of life: two unknown men playing with their own shadow, a powerful close-up on the Tokyo dawn, in which emotions return to the life of our everyday hero.

A powerful and extremely courageous film, Perfect Days belongs to that category of works such as Patterson by Jim Jarmush, Leaves in the Wind by Kaurismaki, which puts the potential of independent cinema with a low budget to tell life, and crumbles that mass of idiocies, superstructures, scaffolding and bombastic spectacle that the New World Cinema industry would like to impose on the world’s spectators.

A film like this is truly dangerous: it is a work that cannot be forgotten, unlike hundreds of spectacular products that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and which you remember nothing about the day after seeing them. It is a film that tears the film industry apart, humiliates it, because it demonstrates in the most dramatic way possible that a much more important film can be made with nothing: with a look, with a smile, with a gust of wind that passes through leaves.

But is the public capable of appreciating this lyrical intimacy, this extraordinary ability to narrate silent life through images? Will he leave the cinema disappointed, grumbling that it is “a film in which nothing happened”, boring, going back to the search for adrenaline, hypnotized by the special effects, excited by the rapid pace, by the spectacular sequence shots that dance on the screen? We’ll see.

Fabio Del Greco

Fabio Del Greco

Director, screenwriter, actor, creator of moving images since 1987. Passionate about cinema and scholar of the seventh art.

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