Call Me Chihiro (2023)

Call Me Chihiro (2023)



Slowburn, slice-of-life moments of found family in a small Japanese seaside town



Fusako Urabe, Hana Toyoshima, Itsuki Nagasawa
131 min

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How do you get that straightforward, but intriguing aura of Ms. Chihiro? Inquiring minds want to know.

What it's about

New to the seaside town, former sex worker Chihiro now works at a small bento shop, drawing the curiosity of her new neighbors.

The take

With a new, fast-paced media landscape, Call Me Chihiro might feel too slow for people new to the story. Composed of serene, slice-of-life moments, the film starts off feeling plotless, as the titular protagonist builds random interactions with the townspeople. She makes friends with people who seemingly don’t have much in common with her. Despite this, each interaction feels meaningful and genuine, thanks to the subtle acting of Kasumi Arimura. And as these scenes build up, and Chihiro’s friends begin to become friends with each other, these day-to-day moments form a character study of a lonely woman whose kindness and appreciation for life make her feel so admirable. For those wistful Sunday nights, Call Me Chihiro might be a great watch, but only if you’re in that certain mood.

What stands out

A slowburn, “plotless” story like this can easily feel boring, but director Rikiya Imaizumi is known for this type of work. Previous work like His (2020) and Little Nights, Little Love (2019) showcase a subtle, silent style that depicts everyday moments anchored in budding relationships. A style like this makes Imaizumi an excellent choice for a director for the ongoing slice-of-life josei manga, and it shows. Through carefully crafted moments, Imaizumi makes the protagonist Chihiro shine, even at the first scene where she playfully greets a stray cat. Every time she appears, the camera remains focused on her, only shifting to the lonely faces of her friends when she’s not around. Each sequence also hints at the next sequence, but also hints at the next progression in each of Chihiro’s relationships. At the same time, Imaizumi has a good sense of knowing when to shift between plotlines, creating this organic flow between scenes.

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