films seen
18
average score
3.47*
nationality
Japan - 60 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Japan's most widely recognized contemporary drama director. Koreeda has a knack for portraying realistic, lovable, layered characters, who shine the brightest whenever light genre elements are added to his films. One of the essentials.

Rare treats

Air Doll

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Kuki Ningyo
2009 / 125m - Japan
Drama, Fantasy
Air Doll poster

A warm, lovingly crafted drama, with a spectacular central performance and fine cinematography, leaning quite heavily on its fantastical premise while using it to question more prominent issues.

After Life

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Wandafuru Raifu
1998 / 118m - Japan
Drama
After Life poster

After Life is about enjoying and appreciating the good things you have. Warmly recommended for everyone who doesn't mind the modest pacing and styling.

The good stuff

Our Little Sister

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Umimachi Diary
2015 / 128m - Japan
Drama
Our Little Sister poster

It's a welcoming, soothing and comforting drama that's just all too rare in cinema. Hopefully Koreeda continues this upward trend, I'm already looking forward to his next film.

Maborosi

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Maboroshi no Hikari
1995 / 110m - Japan
Drama
Maborosi poster

Koreeda's first feature film is quite the calling card. A superb example of subtle and subdued Japanese drama, that handles its themes and characters with the proper respect, never once displaying the need to torture them unnecessarily in the name of sentiment. The strict cinematography, the haunting score, and the lovely performances all add to the emotional core of the film, the finale is more than the cherry on the cake. It's a rather slow and challenging film, but the payoff is tremendous.

Like Father, Like Son

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Soshite Chichi ni Naru
2013 / 120m - Japan
Drama
Like Father, Like Son poster

The characters are given ample room to thrive, the underlying drama is solid and the film features a stellar concept that intrigues even beyond the scope of its running time.

Nobody Knows

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Dare mo Shiranai
2004 / 141m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
Nobody Knows poster

Solid pieces

Shoplifters

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Manbiki Kazoku
2018 / 121m - Japan
Drama, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Shoplifters poster

Decent Koreeda, though not quite justifying all the hype surrounding it. Koreeda is great at documenting everyday life, but I prefer it when his film are quieter and more introverted. Still, some great performances, fine camera work and a strong focus on the drama make this a worthy film. Just not exceptional.

After the Storm

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku
2016 / 118m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
After the Storm poster

I Wish

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Kiseki
2011 / 128m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
I Wish poster

Still Walking

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Aruitemo Aruitemo
2008 / 115m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Still Walking poster

Hana Yori mo Naho

by Hirokazu Koreeda
2006 / 127m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Hana Yori mo Naho poster

Distance

by Hirokazu Koreeda
2001 / 132m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Distance poster

One of Koreeda's earlier feature length dramas, though by then he already had a few big arthouse hits under his belt. Distance never made it that big, maybe it is the somewhat more particular and elaborate setup that got in the way of the actual drama. Still, Koreeda fans will find a very nice film here.

Read all

Four people are getting together to remember the mass suicide of a little cult. They are all related to the victims, and they go to the place where the suicide happened. There they meet the only survivor of that fateful day, but since their transportation is suddenly missing, they are forced to spend the night inside the cult's former home.

A great cast (with Susumu Terajima and Tadanobu Asano as stand-outs), a lovely rural location and Koreeda's usual eye for subtlety and finesse make this a very pleasant drama. The setup feels a bit forced and underused, and the runtime is quite excessive. It's not quite a personal favorite anymore, but still a very fine, quality drama.

Without Memory

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Kioku Ga Ushinawareta Toki
1996 / 75m - Japan
Documentary
3.5*/5.0*
Without Memory poster

The inoffensive

The Third Murder

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Sandome no Satsujin
2017 / 124m - Japan
Drama, Mystery, Crime
3.0*/5.0*
The Third Murder poster

Koreeda doing a murder mystery/prison drama. While the quality present is obvious, Koreeda's style doesn't really blend well with the genre. The film is a little too narrative-driven and it gets a bit boring whenever things need to move forward. Not bad, but Koreeda can do much better.

Kaidan Horror Classics

by Masayuki Ochiai, Shinya Tsukamoto, Sang-il Lee, Hirokazu Koreeda
Ayashiki Bungo Kaidan
2010 / 163m - Japan
Horror
3.0*/5.0*
Kaidan Horror Classics poster

Decent anthology, sadly without stand-out entries. Kaidan stories aren't very scary or gory, so don't expect any modern horror action. Tsukamoto and Koreeda deliver the best entries, Lee's one is decent, the only subpar short is coming from Ochiai. Ironically, the only true horror director present.

Lessons from a Calf

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Mou Hitotsu no Kyouiku - Ina Shogakkou Haru Gumi no Kiroku
1991 / 47m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Lessons from a Calf poster

Koreeda's first stand-alone project. It's a short doc on a class that takes care of a calf and has its entire curriculum based on that experience. It's a disarming doc that shows kids can handle mature issues if handled properly. Koreeda's "show, don't tell" approach is already on display here, production values are low though.

Dubious filler

Ishibumi

by Hirokazu Koreeda
2015 / 85m - Japan
Documentary
2.0*/5.0*
Ishibumi poster

I tend to like Koreeda's feature films, his documentaries are a lot tougher to stomach. It's a bit surprising because Koreeda's best films are the ones where he draws very natural performances from his cast, even so his documentaries tend to feel somewhat forced and poorly constructed.

Read all

Ishibumi tackles the Hiroshima bombing, no doubt Japan's biggest scar of the past century. Koreeda decided to rework a classic TV program for this, but in order to keep thing intimate he has actress Haruka Ayase read the script. About 75% of the documentary is just that, the other quarter is filled with street interviews, though these are mostly situated near the end.

It's a baffling structure that doesn't work at all. The reading is actually quite entrancing, though is interrupted by people reorganizing the stage where Ayase is reading. The interviews intersect at poorly chosen moments and pierce through the meticulously built up atmosphere. Some parts are pretty effective, but as a whole it's quite awkward.

August without Him

by Hirokazu Koreeda
Kare no Inai Hachigatsu Ga
1994 / 77m - Japan
Documentary
2.0*/5.0*
August without Him poster