ReelBob: ‘Our Little Sister’

By Bob Bloom

A movie need not always be about big or important issues.

Sometimes, a small, quiet movie can make a profound statement about the human condition without shouting like the town crier.

Such a film is “Our Little Sister,” a sweet and gentle Japanese import about family and responsibility.

The movie tells the story of three adult sisters who live together in their old family home. They are estranged from their parents who, years earlier, divorced.

Their father, who has married twice more, has just died, leaving behind a grieving widow and a lovable and kind 15-year-old daughter, who lives with her stepmother.

On a whim, the oldest sister invites their father’s youngest — who does not really get along with her stepmother — to come live with her three older stepsisters.

She accepts, and soon the four are under one roof.

“Our Little Sister” really has no plot. It is a character study of a new family dynamic and the bonding process that unites these four diverse personalities.

Serenity wraps its warm and protective arms around this project, complemented by the direction of Hirokazu Koreeda, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

The movie is rich in celebrating the ordinary and the mundane in a manner that slowly makes you a member of the Koda family.

Haruka Ayase plays Sachi, the oldest sister. She is a nurse who bears the responsibility of not only her job, but of being the eldest and — at times — acting like a mother toward her younger siblings.

The other sisters are Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa), who is a bit wild and has lousy taste in men, and Chika (Kaho), the quirky one who always seems to have a smile on her face.

Suzu Hirose as Suzu Asano, the teenage stepsister, wise beyond her years, is shy, polite and loving, embracing her new life with the sisters she comes to love and respect.

At times, the sisters bicker and chide each other. Yet, their strong attachment never cracks or falters. They look out for each other, celebrating their small triumphs and commiserating over their setbacks.

Watching the film is like reading a good book. You slowly savor it, anticipating the next pages and finding connections with the protagonists.

“Our Little Sister” is a tender and restrained feature that flows by like a gentle stream, lulling you with its melodic cadence and drawing you into its beauty.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

4 stars out of 4
(PG), mature themes, language

  • ReelBob

    Do you enjoy Japanese cinema? Share your views on “Our Little Sister” here at ReelBob. We’d love to discuss the movie with you.