Three sisters, Sachi, Yoshino and Chika (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa and Kaho), welcome their newfound and much younger half-sister Suzu (Suzu Asano) into their home after their father passes away.
Suzu is closed off and quiet at first but, as she gets to know her new family, she starts opening up, as does the movie. Writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda doesn’t go for storytelling fireworks in this movie, but he does achieve a quiet, subtle, and extremely charming beauty in this tale of four sisters. Much of the film consists of the girls sitting around dinner tables, having meals and discussing simple life issues. Yes, it sounds boring as all hell on paper, but it actually plays into one of the summer’s most pleasant and rewarding surprises.
Ayase is especially good as the eldest sister, dealing with romantic struggles and trying to reconcile bad feelings towards her mother. Asano is a revelation as the young Suzu, an emotionally closeted girl who, nonetheless, jumps at the chance for a new family and a fresh start. While much of the movie is still and quiet, there’s a moment where Suzu rides on the back of a bike through a tunnel of cherry blossoms that amounts to one of the year’s most memorable images.
The movie goes at a leisurely pace, but not to a point that irritates. When it’s over, you’ll miss these characters.