Our Little Sister FILM REVIEW

Our Little Sister FILM REVIEW


stars 4

Release: 15 April 2016
Distributor: Curzon Artificial Eye
Certificate: PG
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring: Haruka Ayase, Suzu Hirose, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho.


It is often said that you can’t choose your family, but for sisters Sachi, Yoshina, and Chika it is important that they can. After their estranged father passes away, the trio meet their 16-year-old step sister Suzu at his funeral. They’ve never seen her before, but when they realise that she has no direct family other than an ill-prepared step-mother they decide to step in and adopt her into their family. At first she is a reserved and quiet girl, but with the sister’s help she soon comes out of her shell and, unexpectedly, she starts to help them come to terms with their own feelings towards their father.

For Sachi, Yoshina, and Chika, having Suzu around is a way to remember their father that abandoned them at an early age. It makes for some sweet moments in the film, especially when Chika, who is the youngest of the three sisters, asks to hear about their father from Suzu when they are eating homemade curry. Sachi is the only one that has any memories of him, and even then they are not fond ones, so her discussions with Suzu often focus on her misgivings and acceptance that he was actually a good man.


While the sisters try to learn more about their father, it allows Suzu to deal with her belief that she is to blame for her father abandoning them. It is a healing process for all of them and is one that shows how time heals all wounds.

The relationship between the four sisters is certainly the highlight of the film, as all four actors give excellent performances in their respective roles. Kaho is the right mix of quirky and cute as Chika, Masami Nagasawa adds great comedy to the family environment as Yoshina, and Suzu Hirose shines as her character of the same name. It is Haruka Ayase who stands out the most, though, for her take on the eldest sister Sachi. Ayase is known for playing goofy characters, having portrayed them so well in both cinema and television, but her role has Sachi shows that she’s capable of even more. She is the emotional backbone of the family, having had to grow-up and learn to take care of her sister’s from a young age after not just her father abandoned them but also their mother. It is a fresh role for Ayase, and it has given her the chance to deliver one of her best performances to date.


Our Little Sister is one of Hirokazu Koreeda’s more sentimental takes on family life. Given his back-catalogue of gritty family dramas, this should be expected. The topic of abandoned children is one that he has tackled before in films such as Nobody Knows and Like Father, Like Son. This film shares many similarities with the former, but it is a lot more light-hearted. It seems that as his career has developed, so has his view of families. Of course, the film’s more cheerful disposition could be because it is based on the Josei manga Umimachi Diary by Akimi Yoshida. But even so, the way in which Koreeda approaches the family is different. It feels like he is the missing father watching over his children from a distance, and the camera is showing us his point-of-view rather than intruding into their lives. It is an effective atmosphere to create around the sisters, and compliments the quiet setting they are living in.

All in all, the film is a subtle but touching look at the struggles of family life, it may not be one of Koreeda’s best films but it is certainly enjoyable thanks to the excellent performances by its lead actors and the effective way in which Koreeda approaches their relationship.

Review by Roxy Simons




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