Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s dramas possess a peerless delicacy in their domestic observations. He never seems to approach the material with gloves on, although the gentility takes an quiet yet conspicuous effort. The director’s “Our Little Sister,” on the other hand, feels a little more precious than his previous work.
Kore-Eda adapted the film from a manga series, “Umachi Diary,” rather than writing the screenplay from his own original idea. I’m not familiar with the source material and any obligation he might owe it. My best guess is that his one-step removal from creating the characters kept him from unlocking the same level of interiority he captured in “Like Father, Like Son” or “Still Walking.”
“Our Little Sister” has its moments of genuine, tender familial emotion. The story of three grown sisters living together who take in their recently orphaned half-sister Sachi, a hitherto unknown offspring of their late estranged father. Her presence in their life sets off soul-searching in each of the original trio and triggers the release of some pent-up resentment from their spurned mother. When Kore-Eda embraces the prickliness of their relationships, the film works. But he spends more of the film dancing around their emotions, obliquely conveying them without really expressing their potency. B- /