KimStim is distributing in North America Yui Kiyohara’s Remembering Every Night, presented at the 73rd Berlinale, that was designated one of five highlights from New Directors/New Films 2023. The film was produced and supported by Japan’s Pia Film Festival and its PFF Scholarship for young filmmakers, and will open on September 15th in New York Film at Lincoln Center and on September 22nd in Los Angeles at Laemmle Theatres.
Yui Kiyohara’s previous feature, Our House debuted in 2017, and the long-awaited follow-up reprises a storytelling that centres around female lives. But this time, the narrative does not occur in a single home, rather in an entire neighbourhood that becomes a character in the film, the leading one.
In Remembering Every Night (Subete no Yoru wo Omoidasu) audiences observe three women, who are engaged in mundane activities over the course of a day. The film comes across as a Nipponic tryptic for Mrs. Dalloway, but without the stream-of-consciousness. The flow of the mind is left to spectators, who can ponder upon the various realities that unfold through each flâneuse.
The oldest of the women is unemployed and is seeking a new job, but gets offered positions that are very far from her original profession of kimono dresser. She receives an old postcard from a friend and decides to go visit her and has difficulties finding the place.
Another woman is a gas metre reader who helps find a lost elderly man and return him to his home — eventually things will not turn out as expected. The youngest of them all is a university student who spends time with a friend, visiting a museum and commemorating the anniversary of the death of their friend Dai, who used to take pictures of them.
The entire action takes place in a Tokyo suburb called Tama New Town. This is a residential area to the west of Japan’s capital that was built in the mid-Sixties, when housing costs were exploding. The Japanese director actually grew up in Tama, therefore the topic feels close to home as she explained: “At a glance, there is an artificial uniformity to the city’s scenery that lends it the impression of a manufactured movie set. Apartment blocks and parks seem to extend infinitely, with no way out of the surroundings in sight.
All the actors chorally bring together a quiet and pensive atmosphere: Kumi Hyodo, Minami Ohba, Ai Mikami, Guama Uchida, Tadashi Okuno, Shintaro Yuya, Mizuho Nojima. The cinematography by Yukiko Iioka instills a mystical allure to the the town’s housing complexes, with its roads, parks, and avenues, that are masterfully edited by Azusa Yamazaki. Whilst Jon no son’s music score punctuates the evanescence of the existences that intertwine throughout these three women’s journey.
The way life fizzles out without a warning — often leaving no trace of what has been — is beautifully captured in the closing scene where fireworks turn into smoke. This is a stupendous counterpart to the opening scene that is an ode to life, with a picnic that is hosted by a group of musicians tuning their instruments.
Remembering Every Night conveys an uncanny sense of intimacy, as it revolves around the quotidian. The way the film invites to slow down and actually look at our surrounding environment is an outstanding invitation to reconnect with the analogue and naturalistic realm, even and most especially in the big cities.
Final Grade: B