Review: Perfect Days – Easy living

Directed by Wim Wenders
Starring Kōji Yakusho, Tokio Emoto, Yamada Aoi


It’s a joy to see a slice-of-life film like this that really cuts down to the essential. With hardly much of a story or conflict, a film like Perfect Days is not so much a character study but a life study, showing a very simple, very mild-mannered, and very Japanese way of living that probably should be influential on the audience.

Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho) is seen living his humble life, working as a toilet cleaner with his young assistant Takashi (Tokio Emoto), before heading to the bathhouse and then a train station bar in the evening. Each day seems similar to the last, which seems fine to Hirayama. But disruption does come, whether it’s through Takashi’s girlfriend, the arrival of his niece, or the tragedy facing one of his favourite food joints.

Hirayama is not one to introduce anything new in his life because he knows something new will happen for him. Yakusho does a stellar job with a leading role that has hardly any lines of dialogue. His lack of talking certainly says something about this character—another part of his life he feels he only needs to utilise if necessary. And Yakusho conveys so much just visually, particularly in the final shot he’s in, with various emotions on his face at once—it’s astonishing to see.

This is a film of a quiet and internal transcendental quality for fans of Japanese idioms that reflect on the transient nature of life (one of which shows up after the credits, so stick around for it). Hirayama’s life may be repetitive, but the film is able to show that without feeling repetitive itself, making the two-hour runtime fly by.

It feels like it’s highly embedded in the Japanese culture it conveys, with the entire film and the man it follows throughout every scene highly emphasising this asceticism of life. This makes it all the more strange that it wasn’t even directed by a Japanese person, but by the German-born Wim Wenders. Although he’s been a director of wild and ambitious films in the past of varying quality, he’s still managed to keep a focused view on people’s lives before, and has achieved it with great quality with Perfect Days.


Perfect Days plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 15 to Sunday, January 21, 2024. For more information and to buy tickets head to