• Film

“Perfect Days”: Portrait of a Simple Man in a Tokyo Story by Wim Wenders

Screened in the official competition at the last Cannes Film Festival in May, Wim Wenders’s Perfect Days is set in Tokyo and follows the quiet and uncomplicated life of Hirayama, a toilet cleaner, played by Koji Yakusho, (this year winner of the Best Actor award). His daily existence consists of driving in his van from job to job, listening to cassettes of classic rock music, as he fastidiously carries out his tasks which he takes much pride in. During his lunch hour, he takes photos of nature, especially trees, and at night he enjoys his books. A seemingly tedious routine which suits him while a series of unexpected encounters gradually reveals more of his past…

During the press conference for the film at the Festival, Wenders, (who won the Golden Palm in 1984 for Paris, Texas), explained the origins of the movie.  “It started with an invitation by Koji [Yanaï, the co-producer] to come and see these toilets that had opened, so to speak, during the pandemic. The Olympics were postponed, and at the time, there were no foreigners there, so, these beauties happened a little bit without being seen. Koji asked me if I could come and have a look at them and if I find inspiration to either photograph them or maybe make a short film or a series of short films about them. It was, ‘Would you come to Tokyo and look at these amazing places, and maybe it inspires you?’ And I don’t have to be asked twice to come to Tokyo.”


Wenders finally decided to make a feature length film instead, with Takuma Takasaki as co-screenwriter, admitting that Hirayama was an unusual character to grasp. “He is based on this man, as well as some of my favorite people in the world and some of my favorite actors, one of them being Ozu’s main actor who has been in all his films, Chishu Ryu.  I don’t think I ever really tried to get into a character like this who has such humility and such simplicity and [who is] so content being of service. This was new territory for me, and it came deep out of my soul and out of Takuma’s soul.  I can’t say I conceived it. We both agreed that this is, at this moment in time, what we wanted to depict. Somebody who had a very different background, we don’t quite know much about, but we catch a few glimpses [about this person] who would choose this life and who’s happy with this life.” Adding, “I think [Perfect Days] is a very spiritual film for me. And in a way, similar to Wings of Desire.”