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Perfect days – is that even a thing?

Perfect days – is that even a thing?

             Perfect Days was for me one of these surprises of 2024 in the cinematic universe. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking: this will be a beautiful but underrated film. But I was wrong – and I love being wrong. It’s not so underrated!!

Next time is next time. Now is now.

             I was surprised to learn that Perfect Days was directed by a German director, Wim Wenders (I know his Million Dollar Hotel, Le sel de la terre  and Paris, Texas). And when I saw his name, I was skeptical – how on Earth could a German director convince me that he knows a thing or two about the sacred art of zen? 

But I had no expectations when mum and I walked into the theater. Oh well, I will be honest with you – I was tired and expected to fall asleep while watching, but the truth is I couldn’t stop smiling. And I don’t even know when the 2 hours flew by! 

via IMDb

So, what charmed me about the simple life of an older man, so seemingly routinely mundane? Just this. The simplicity, the routines (that for the purpose of this text and my entire life I will call traditions) and enjoying the overlooked beauty.

The world is made up of many worlds; some are connected, and some are not.

             Hirayama (played by fantastic Kōji Yakusho) lives a simple life – simple to the very definition of the word. He wakes up before dawn, puts on his overalls, gets a canned coffee from a vending machine outside, gets to his car and starts his day as a cleaner of public toilets in Tokyo. 

One might say what’s so extraordinary about it? How can one be happy with such a life? How can one call such a day a perfect day? What is so perfect about it? Now, when you will be my age (haha, I do sound like a well-lived 80-year-old, here being in the beginning of my 30s), you will start to appreciate the little rituals and traditions.

via IMDb

             For me, in Spring and Summer it’s enjoying a cup of coffee on my balcony before work. With a book, but without my phone. Sometimes with music. Or it’s reading a book in bed in the evening (lately I am aiming for 100 pages a day). 

These kind of perfect little things remind me about the simple beauty of life. Because not everything has to be extraordinary or perfect. It doesn’t have to be grand or special. Sharing a cup of coffee with your best friend on the Saturday morning where the both of you sit there in silence is perfect.

Just a perfect day, drink sangria in a park
and then later, when it gets dark we go home…

             Yet Hirayama welcomes the unexpected with somewhat open arms. But about this in a moment – for now let me tell you about his lunch break. Always at the same park, always at the same bench, his head always up looking at the trees. Always taking out his analog camera to take a picture of the leaves. Or maybe the sunlight leaking through the leaves…


And actually, there is a word in Japanese: komorebi, which means exactly that: sunlight leaking through the leaves, and initially this was supposed to be the title of the film. But this word means so much more: connection to nature, the necessity to take a break and taking time to absorb and appreciate the perfect meaning of tiny, seemingly insignificant details.

And Hirayama has the perfect grasp on it. And when you take a closer look at the songs he chooses as the “windows to his soul”, you know I am right: Lou Reed and Nina Simone! Hirayama is happy. 

Oh it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spend it with you

             Hirayama’s ascetic life is stripped back to basics: music? He plays on cassette tapes collected, we can only assume, in his long-ago youth. Books? He gets them secondhand from the budget section of the local bookstore. And the trees… It seems that they have a particular significance for him. It’s something that he pays back by cautiously rescuing fragile Japanese maple seedlings in order to nurture them in his apartment.

And even when his niece unexpectedly visits him, or when his erratic co-worker drags him into some messy situations, Hirayama accepts and molds into this. An unexpected adventure that will stay with him forever. 

via IMDb

             I think that is the beauty of his perfect days. They might seem the same, they are tinted with rituals and predetermined stops, but they make him happy. And you know what? I am here for it!!! Perfect days is simple and yet profound, and I will recommend it to everyone who lost their ability to slow down and appreciate life a bit. 

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