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Movie Critique: The Remaining Years (2023) directed by Shinji Kuma
Movie Critique: The Remaining Years (2023) directed by Shinji Kuma

Movie Critique: The Remaining Years (2023) directed by Shinji Kuma

A touching and relatable story about dealing with loss and finding hope, directed by the creator of the popular Netflix series “Hibana: Spark” (2016). After losing his wife Kayo to dementia two years ago, 71-year-old Kenji begins to experience similar symptoms and searches for ways to combat the progression. He joins the Long and Healthy Life Club, where he befriends the quirky Mr. Hashimoto. Together, they enroll in a swimming class taught by former professional athlete Kaori, who is also struggling with the realization that her peak has passed. Through their shared experiences in the class, they discover new perspectives on life.


The movie “The Rest of Our Lives” will be shown at the Camera Japan Festival.

Director Shinji Kuma beautifully explores the theme of aging with a touch of compassion. The intertwining stories of Kaori and Kenji are well-crafted and not overshadowed by cliché orchestration found in similar genres. The addition of Mr. Hashimoto, a somewhat perverted character, adds a healthy balance between the weighty subject of death and the newfound desire for life. Through flashbacks written in Kenji’s diary, the audience is taken back to the past and his late wife. In these moments, Kenji’s character reveals a deep melancholy as he pours out his heart to his wife and shares his innermost thoughts. He expresses his greatest fear of becoming a burden to others and contemplates suicide. This unexpected vulnerability from the protagonist feels truly genuine and sheds light on the darker aspects of the human psyche.

While many Japanese movies have centered around the plot in the past, “The Rest of Our Lives” presents a unique and intricate concept that sets it apart from other predictable films. The deliberate use of slow shots effectively captures the gradual aging process and adds a graceful element to the characters. The main actors deliver exceptional performances that never feel silly or out of place. With a runtime of 100 minutes, the pacing may wane slightly towards the end. However, the film makes up for it with an optimistic conclusion that makes it worth watching. The last portion may feature lengthy dialogue, but “The Rest of Our Lives” ultimately leaves viewers feeling rewarded.

Please also take a look at this interview.

Kuma discusses the issue of generational conflict. There is tension between Kenji’s son and daughter-in-law due to their financial struggles. The film, “The Rest of Our Lives,” reveals the selfish motives of the daughter-in-law as she pursues money and exposes the hypocrisy behind her actions. This is not portrayed as judgmental, but rather as a reality that both parties must confront. Ultimately, the film subtly resolves the tensions by portraying Kenji as an independent man who has matured and taken on new responsibilities in order to maintain his desire to live.

The play concludes with a sense of forgiveness and a positive perspective for everyone. Despite the fact that life can often end in isolation and remorse, there is still an opportunity to alter this outcome through the choices you make during the time you are given. With a mix of joy and sorrow, Shinji Kuma, a graduate from Osaka University of Arts, delivers a remarkable performance featuring a powerful protagonist and a compelling portrayal of personal development through intergenerational communication.