films seen
average score
Japan - 62 years old
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.


Air Doll

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

Wandafuru Raifu
1998 / 118m - Japan
After Life poster

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

Our Little Sister

Umimachi Diary
2015 / 128m - Japan
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.


Maboroshi no Hikari
1995 / 110m - Japan
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

Soshite Chichi ni Naru
2013 / 120m - Japan
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

Dare mo Shiranai
2004 / 141m - Japan
Nobody Knows poster

Hirokazu Koreeda's true international breakthrough, much thanks to YĆ«ya Yagira's win in Cannes. It's a more modest drama, stripped from earlier arthouse aesthetics and/or light genre elements that generally deter broader audiences. The film is a core drama with strong performances and a touching story, staying clear of overpowering sentimentality thanks to Koreeada's subtle and observant direction. It's a tad long and not quite as unique as Koreeda's best work, but if you're not familiar with the director and you're looking for a good entry film, this one is perfection.


2023 / 127m - Japan
Monster poster

Koreeda's latest is more plot than it is a gentle character study, and that means that he's not playing to his strengths. It's a pleasant enough film, with some touches that are unique to Koreeda, but the mix of an overly construed plot and subtle drama don't necessarily mix well together.

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When a single mother starts to suspect that her son is being bullied at school, she takes matters into her own hands and confronts the school. They are careful not to insult her without taking responsibility, which only further escalates the situation. But things are not what they seem, as will be revealed by the boy's version of the story.

The Rashomon setup felt a little unnecessary, the LGBTQ+ themes are also somewhat superfluous, and two hours is a little too generous for what is a simple story. The setting, performances, and non-narrative moments are vintage Koreeda though. A pleasant enough film, but he can do a lot better.


2022 / 129m - South Korea
Broker poster

Koreeda's first South-Korean film. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a marriage between the two. The cinematography is a tad more polished, the film somewhat more plot-focused, and the performances not quite as gentle. Koreeda does well here, but it's hardly a standout in his oeuvre.

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Two men collect foundlings and sell them off to parents who can't get any children for lots of money. Their latest catch will bring them a lot of headaches when the mother decides to pick up her baby the next day and finds that he is gone. The police are also on their tails, waiting to bring in the two men.

There's a bit more intrigue here compared to most of Koreeda's Japanese films, but it detracts rather than adds to the film. The performances are solid but not great, and the cinematography is nice but can feel a bit forced. It's the lighter and less dramatic moments that save this from mediocrity. A pleasant drama, but I hope Koreeda returns to Japan for his next film.


Manbiki Kazoku
2018 / 121m - Japan
Drama, Crime
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

Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku
2016 / 118m - Japan
After the Storm poster

I Wish

2011 / 128m - Japan
I Wish poster

Still Walking

Aruitemo Aruitemo
2008 / 115m - Japan
Still Walking poster

Hana Yori mo Naho

2006 / 127m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
Hana Yori mo Naho poster


2001 / 132m - Japan
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.

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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

Kioku Ga Ushinawareta Toki
1996 / 75m - Japan
Without Memory poster

The Third Murder

Sandome no Satsujin
2017 / 124m - Japan
Drama, Mystery, Crime
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

Ayashiki Bungo Kaidan
2010 / 163m - Japan
Horror - Anthology
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

Mou Hitotsu no Kyouiku - Ina Shogakkou Haru Gumi no Kiroku
1991 / 47m - Japan
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.


2015 / 85m - Japan
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.

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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

Kare no Inai Hachigatsu Ga
1994 / 77m - Japan
August without Him poster