ちょっと思い出しただけ (Chotto Omoidashita dake)
Japan, 2021, 115’, Japanese
Directed by: Matsui Daigo
Screenplay: Matsui Daigo
Photography (color): Shioya Hiroki
Editing: Takita Ryuichi
Art Direction: Soma Naoki
Producers: Wada Daisuke, Sawamura Satoshi
Executive Producer: Ota Kazuhiro
Cast: Ikematsu Sosuke, Ito Sairi
Date of First Release in Territory: February 11th, 2022
Matsui Daigo has been directing films about youth for a decade now, some in a shot-on-the-fly style that reflects the scrappy energy of his teenage subjects. Examples include Our Huff and Puff Journey (2015), in which four girls journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo to see the band CreepHyp, and Japanese Girls Never Die (2016), in which a gang of girls roam around town at night terrorizing unsuspecting men.
Matsui’s latest film, Just Remembering, which won the audience award at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, is quite different in tone and theme. For one thing, its two principals – former dancer Teruo (Ikematsu Sosuke), who works as lighting technician for a theater company, and taxi driver Yo (Ito Sairi), who is a fan of Winona Ryder’s cabbie in the 1991 Jim Jarmusch film Night on Earth – are no longer kids or, as the film begins, lovers.
For another, the story is structured so that nearly all of the action occurs on July 26, Teruo’s birthday, but in different years, adding a formal unity absent in Matsui’s earlier films. Jarmusch did something similar in Night on Earth, with five vignettes unfolding at the same time but in different time zones.
The moving-back-through-time plot has a certain artificiality (as well as many birthday celebrations for Teruo), but the film’s core love affair does not: Teruo and Yo energize and inspire each other, beginning with a playfulness that feels natural and spontaneous, and ending with a regret over the roads not taken that is grounded and achingly real.
When we first meet Teruo, he is living a fixed routine: feed the cat, do his stretches and, as he walks to work, say good morning to a middle-aged guy (Nagase Masatoshi) waiting patiently for his missing wife, day after day, month after month and year after year, on a park bench.
Meanwhile, Yo is shuttling passengers around Tokyo and learning their secrets. A bubbly woman celebrating her 21st birthday reveals she nearly committed suicide. Later, a sketchy guy lies to his wife after planning a tryst with his lover – until a disgusted Yo slams on the brakes.
Stopping at Teruo’s theater for a passenger’s bathroom break, she glimpses her ex from afar. Then time begins its backward journey – and we see that she once shared his routine and bed, but not always his thoughts and fears. To the straight-talking Yo, Teruo’s reluctance to open up after an injury that ends his dancing career becomes a source of frustration and, finally, anger.
The story continues along in an episodic way, with moments of humor and flashes of revelation. The chemistry between Ito and Ikematsu may seem more like friends enjoying each other’s company than soulmates burning with passion, but the connection between their characters rings true, while their eventual break-up seems fated.
Also, the film’s narrative arc, with the good times coming last, paradoxically deepens the pathos of the couple’s final parting. “If only they could see it coming,” you may think as they romp around a closed aquarium at night. But the memory of that moment – and of Just Remembering – lingers.
Matsui Daigo (b. 1985) entered Keio University in Tokyo. In 2008 he founded his own theatre troupe, Gojiden, for which he served as playwright, director and actor. In 2009 he became the youngest scriptwriter for public broadcaster NHK, working on the series drama Two Speakers. After that he continued to script and direct TV dramas, while making prize-winning short films. His first feature as a director, the quirky comedy Afro Tanaka, screened at the 14th edition of Udine FEFF. After that he made several films with teenaged protagonists. His most recent film, Just Remembering, premiered at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival.
2012 – Afro Tanaka
2012 – Daily Lives of High School Boys
2013 – Sweet Poolside
2014 – Wonderful World End
2015 – Watashitachi no haa haa
2016 – Haruko Azumi Is Missing
2017 – Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops
2017 – You, Your, Yours
2020 – #HandballStrive
2021 – Just Remembering