Our Little Sister ★★★★

On a recent vacation flight to London I was gobsmacked that the Air Canada seat back on-flight entertainment system was not only modern, high def 16x9 native, and incredibly responsive, but more so that the huge selection of films was chock-a-block with world cinema. I stepped through a couple of trailers and was astounded at the picture quality and maintaining of the original aspect ratio … yes, they actually maintained a 2.35 aspect ratio for the appropriate films. Big Yay to Air Canada and it’s newish 777 fleet!

On a similar vacation flight to London a few years ago I chose The Lego Movie from the limited selection; I thought about being all symmetrical and stuff and choosing The Lego Batman Movie, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it considering the wonderful selection and decent screen.

Sifting through the dozens of pages of films, what caught my eye was Our Little Sister, by acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. My wife introduced me to Kore-eda’s After Life soon after we met, and it remains one of my favourite films. After that, I saw his ‘loosely based on a true story’ Nobody Knows, and loved it too. It was with some considerable anticipation that we snagged premier tickets to his newest film at TIFF some years ago, Like Father Like Son, knowing that Kore-eda would be conducting a Q&A. Alas, I was disappointed. Like Father Like Son was rather cloying and over melodramatic, not what I had expected. It felt more like something Steven Spielberg would come up with. During the Q&A afterwards, Kore-eda actually confirmed that Spielberg had acquired the rights. *sigh*. When the following year he came back to TIFF with a film titled ‘My Little Sister’, I was rather gun shy, and we avoided it. It was only a brief comments conversation here with my long time friend here, ButtNugget, aficionado of all cinematic things Asian, told me my fear was unfounded with this one.

She was right.

Being an only child, it’s difficult to completely relate to the bond between siblings, and being male, even more difficult to relate to what I think would be a special bond between sisters. Our Little Sister rang true to me, though. Gone were the melodramatic touches that I thought Like Father Like Son suffered from, replaced by a greater sense of authenticity. What’s particularly interesting is that at the Like Father Like Son Q&A, the director told of that film being a very personal one for him, and reflecting elements of the relationship between he and his daughter. Perhaps he was overcompensating on rendering the two ‘fathers’ as two sides of himself, and went overboard on each side. I was particularly disturbed at the lack of input of the wives. Here, in Our Little Sister, this worldview is turned on it’s head; women have the power, the strength, and they pander to no man.

Our Little Sister seems more consistent with the gentle touch I’ve seen in the other Kore-eda films I’ve loved, and now I’m less afraid to explore more. Thanks, ButtNugget!

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