Today: February 22, 2024

Only Yesterday

If you’re the type of person who likes to go into a movie blind – i.e. no prior knowledge of the plot, completely down for a spontaneous ride – then Only Yesterday is not for you.

Though a sweet, subtle film about how reflection on ones’ past can help navigate their future, that message is so gently hummed throughout it barely makes itself heard above the overlaying narrative.

An interesting overlaying narrative? Yes. Undeniably so. The character of Taeko (Miki Imai) is relatable both as the young 10 year-old dreamer she was and the lost yet good-natured adult she’s becomes.

With ‘cooties’, crushes, sibling squabbles and ticking-offs her childhood mirrors milestones we’ve all achieved. There are even many pockets of laughter throughout as her trip down memory lane strikes a familiar chord in our own minds.

However, despite the amusement Only Yesterday seems as directionless as adult Taeko and for a while it’s a struggle to understand the purpose Taeko’s younger self in her adult thoughts.

But that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable watch overall. It is a joy to watch the relationship between Taeko and farmer Toshio (Toshirô Yanagiba) as it gradually exceeds the pleasantries stage and develops into something deeper. A gentle, tender reminder that opportunities – be it relationships or otherwise – can sometimes slip by if we ignore what is right underneath our noses.

Stylistically, director Isao Takahata does an effortless job at seamlessly slipping between the past and the present all culminating in a particularly tense yet romantically exciting finish.

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