Perfect Days
The predominantly dialog-free lead performance by Koji Yakusho expresses both optimism and sadness in Wim Wender’s latest.

Perfect Days

Release Date: February 9, 2024
Runtime: 02:03
A janitor in Japan drives between jobs listening to rock music.

A Tokyo janitor goes through his daily routine of cleaning toilets with a smile on his face in . Hirayama () goes through the same routine daily as he cleans the various public toilets around Tokyo. He is often joined by his slacker co-worker Takashi (), who is more concerned with his upcoming date with Aya (). Hirayama is surprised by the unexpected arrival of his teenage niece Niko ().

Perfect Days Synopsis

Perfect Days is a Tokyo drama co-written and directed by Wim Wenders (Anselm, Wings of Desire) and starring Koji Yakusho (Babel) as the incredibly optimistic janitor Hirayama, the name inspired by Yasujirô Ozu's Tokyo Story. Speaking few words, Hirayama goes through his daily routine, which includes getting up at done, grabbing a can of coffee from a nearby vending machine, and driving to work playing music from his collection of classic rock cassette tapes. Hirayama has no qualms about cleaning Tokyo's public toilets, especially as he takes his lunch breaks in the park and takes photos of the nearby trees.

Hirayama's routine is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of his niece Niko, the daughter of his estranged sister Keiko (). Niko ends up spending a couple of days accompanying Hirayama, giving him a break from his isolated existence. This experience results in a change of demeanour about Hirayama's seemingly perfect routine.

My Thoughts on Perfect Days

With star Koji Yakusho spending a week cleaning toilets in Tokyo in preparation for his role, Perfect Days is a film that is described by director Wim Wenders as being like a documentary of the fictional protagonist of Hirayama. The plot of Perfect Days rotates through different supporting characters to interact with Hirayama, who rarely speaks himself for the entire first half of the film. The major turning point in the film is the arrival of his niece Niko, who perhaps gives Hirayama a look at what he is missing in his life.

Perfect Days is notable for featuring a classic rock soundtrack, consisting of the cassette tapes that Hirayama plays on his way to work every morning. This includes “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, “(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Redondo Beach” by Patti Smith, and of course “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed. A deviation from this classic rock soundtrack is the final scene set to the Nina Simone jazz classic “Feeling Good” and the very ambiguous facial expression given by Hirayama as he listens.

Even though his performance isn't reliant on dialogue, Koji Yakusho drives the plot of Perfect Days through his physical behaviours, whether it be the breath of fresh air he breathes every morning or the glances he shares in the park with both a homeless man () or the woman on the bench beside him on Hirayama's lunch breaks. While Koji Yakusho is undoubtedly expressing feel-good optimism in the first half of Perfect Days, it soon gives away hints of sadness. Ultimately, Perfect Days is a slice-of-life drama about a man making the best of the hand that life drew for him.

Trailer for Perfect Days

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.