A sad Japanese film that tells a tale of a railway man that works at the end of a desolated railway line, at the end of his career, at the end of his life. Nothing much happens. He does his job at the one man station faithfully. He greets the old familiar commuters with the station name, shovels snow off the platform, sends the train off with a ritualistic check list. He did this almost all his life with the same mechanical precision. He had a family once. His daughter died at a very young age and more recently his wife died.
The lonely widower had a few visitors on New Year's Eve. And the news were not festive. The little town, with the younger population migrating to bigger places, would probably die of old age. The rail line, facing declining traffic and increasing loss, will be closed. And he would have to vacate the station which was also his home for most of his life.
The director, Yasuo Furuhata, handles the story with sensitivity and humility. The occasional high camera or wide angle shots only accentuates the isolation. Cutting is excellent. Scenes are allowed to sustain poignancy without allowing distraction. Quick cuts are used to enforce the ritual routine with precision. The bare story line & minimal dialogue was not a handicap. The use of flashbacks in fact creates beautiful characterisation without unnecessary ornamentation. The old method of using colour tone to delineate time events was very effective here. In one particular scene shot from a static camera position flowed with a continuous action shifted over time just by the use of colour. Seamless, masterly.
Thanks to "Kahuna-6"