‘Perfect Days’ Celebrates the Magic of the Everyday - Salt 106.5

‘Perfect Days’ Celebrates the Magic of the Everyday

German writer/director Wim Wenders has received accolades for this Japanese film that taps into the subtle beauty found in the everyday.

By Salt 106.5 Network Friday 3 May 2024MoviesReading Time: 4 minutes

Among the films nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards, one has set a new landmark for filmmaking.
Key points
  • Wim Weiders’ film is a gift to viewers in that it teaches a lesson in how we all need to stop and notice the magical moments that can and do occur in our daily lives.
  • Many films celebrate the grand and the exciting life, but there is something to be said about the quiet life. Most people can relate to a calm and peaceful life.

Perfect Days was the first film nominated from Japan that was not directed by a Japanese filmmaker. Acclaimed German writer/director Wim Wenders (Submergence) deservedly received accolades for making a Japanese film that taps into the subtle beauty found in the shadows of life’s everyday routine.

Wenders partners with writer Takuma Takasaki to develop the character of a Tokyo public toilet cleaner named Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho). His life is a steady stream of rituals and patterns that would be labelled as mundane without the unique moments that make each day extraordinary. In each toilet block, the cleaner does his work with pride while taking the time to see glimpses of understated beauty around him. Despite remaining disciplined and focused on his daily routine, Hirayama catches the wonderfully uncommon situations and people that help justify his existence. All of this is brilliantly supported by a soundtrack of cassettes from the ’70s and ’80s that accentuate each sunrise, fleeting glance, and those brief touches of humanity that would have been missed if the toilet cleaner had not looked up from his workaday existence.

At the outset, Perfect Days comes off as a less than humorous, arthouse version of Groundhog Day. Yet, suppose the audience is willing to travel with Hirayama as he journeys through his seemingly unremarkable life. In that case, they may discover unexpected treasures that can be found in everyday life. Wim Weiders’ gift to the viewer is a lesson in how we all need to stop and notice the magical moments that can and do occur in our daily lives. This ingenious storytelling has no grand crescendo of events or a dramatic conclusion. Still, what happens is a fantastic choice of songs that capture the emotion of each day and brilliantly punctuate the lesson that the story is meant to convey about the gift of each day of life.

Wim Weiders’ gift to the viewer is a lesson in how we all need to stop and notice the magical moments that can and do occur in our daily lives.

Understandably, Hirayama’s tale may prove too methodical and understated for modern tastes. Yet, if audiences were to pass on this film because of these aspects of storytelling, they would miss out on one of the most beautiful and profound films of the year—a poignant narrative worth embracing and allowing to wash over them like a refreshing breeze blowing through the metaphorical canopy of trees surrounding their very existence.

REEL DIALOGUE: The value of the quiet life

Many films celebrate the grand and the exciting life. There is nothing wrong with these stories that cause some to stand out in society, but there is something to be said about the quiet life. Most people can relate to a calm and peaceful life in a film like Perfect Days and in this short passage from the Apostle Paul. In our modern, fast-paced world, it can be challenging to stop and see the majesty of our world as humans.

Many films celebrate the grand and the exciting life, but there is something to be said about the quiet life. Most people can relate to a calm and peaceful life.

Maybe films like Perfect Days and Past Lives challenge us to slow down and see the gift of life for what it is to us all—something that can be celebrated and provides us the time to consider not only our own life but how God fits into our world. He is the one who gave us the blessing of living in this world, but have you taken time to appreciate this gift or the giver?

Take some time to slow down and notice the beauty around you, which can be found in the people, places, and things of your world. Then, take a moment to thank the God who gave them to you today.

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First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

If you would like to discuss the value of the quiet life, reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum. Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

All images: Movie stills