This film, directed by Koreeda Hirokazu and released in 1998, is as quiet and contemplative as you’d expect from Koreeda. It is set in a building were the recently deceased come. Here, they are expected to choose one memory from their life that will be re-enacted and filmed. They can take this into heaven as their only memory of their life.
The cast is a mix of actors and real people reminiscing about their lives, which gives the film a realistic, unscripted feel. The setting is interesting, too: an institutional building that’s clearly seen better days. Paint peels from the walls, and the architecture and furniture have a 1940s feel to them. This adds to a sense of the film not happening in any particular time.
The location of the building, too, is kept vague. In one scene, one of the characters walks from the building to a nearby modern Japanese town, giving the impression that this place is more in our world than in the next.
There is a story line: an unrequited love between two of the people working in the building, but it’s kind of lost amongst the various stories being told by the recently departed. It seems to me that they are the main focus of this film. These ordinary people with their fascinating stories are really what this film is about.