Friday, May 17, 2024

On Perfect Days

Perfect Days

Who else has seen Perfect Days? It's about a middle-aged man, Hirayama, who lives his every day. He wakes up early and hears the street sweeper outside. He rolls his mat, brushes his teeth, trims his beard, waters his plants, gets instant coffee from a vending machine, plays a song on a cassette tape, and drives to work. He is a toilet cleaner in what looks like an upscale neighborhood in Tokyo. He has lunch in a park where he takes photos with a film camera. He looks up at the sky and trees and smiles. After work he goes to an onsen and eats in an izakaya, where he has a glass of beer. He goes home, turns on the reading light, and reads a book before he finally falls asleep.

Nothing much happens. Hirayama hardly ever speaks. There's not a lot of dialogue. Other than the wonderful American songs in he plays in the car, the sounds you hear in the movie are mostly background noises, like vehicles swooshing, the toilet doors opening, or the leaves rustling.

I can't quite explain why I like Wim Wenders's film so much. Is it because I am in that moment in my life when I live almost the same way—getting through the day but finding quiet moments in between? Is it because the film is set in Japan, which has recently become one of my favorite places to visit in the world? Is it because the film seems free from distraction and celebrates the analog in an increasingly digital milieu? Is it because the ending features Hirayama listening to music and tearing up, like it was catharsis and thanksgiving in equal measure, and I often do the same, with prayer and remembering, because work can feel heavy? Is it because it is quiet and contemplative—and freedom from noise is what we all need at this point? 

I suppose all of those reasons are true. 

Image credit: IMDB.



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