“Still Walking” (Criterion)
A family drama about absence, expectations, disappointments and acceptance, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Still Walking” is framed (and in effect defined) by the death of an eldest son. That death happened fifteen years before but the family still gathers to commemorate the memory of Junpei, who drowned saving a child swept off the nearby beach and has been all but deified into an impossible ideal of potential and perfection that the father (Yoshio Harada) uses to measure his other son. Once the local doctor and still hanging on to the honorific title in forced retirement, the old man had put all his hope in Junpei taking his practice. His youngest, Ryo (Hiroshi Abe), now forty, has “rebelled” by becoming an art restorer and married a young widow with a child to boot! The daughter (You) plays the chatty diplomat while her husband dozes or goofs with their children during the family rituals. Mother is the thankless host, but even she can’t hide her disappointment in a grandchild that doesn’t share her family blood.