The movie is a grounded drama. Very cleverly made. Technical-wise, I say it's brilliant! Cinematography is visually engaging, Music matches the mood although there some dry and plain parts. I do think music can be patched up into some parts of the movie. But, I commend the simplicity of its form. The build-up of the story is quite intense. It perfectly played well the drive coming from the plot and coming from the characters. Direction is amazing because the emotion was conveyed properly. Characters played well, although I think in writer's perspective, some characters can be build up to make them stronger. Akira's character is very strong, intense, and the one that drives the story forward. Yuki has a very important role, she played well too, but I think the depth of her character can still be improved. However, the symbol of innocence carefully tagged to her was amazing. Shigeru was the balance that compliments the turmoil of the story. I do think his character was well-thought of. Kyoko's character on the other hand, was very light so I speak. She's the one that could possibly cannot let go of the image of the mother, that's a great storyline. But her individual journey as a character got stucked up somewhere. I didn't see character development in the end.
I rated it 9 because for some reason, I wasn't really intensely moved by it. I do think, some special element was missing from the story. I think there was no resolution in the character's perspective. By resolution, I do not mean that the mother will come back (that's basically such a lame ending if they did it that way), and also not for an outsider or anybody else discovering and taking care of them (an ending like this will definitely kill the story)... What I mean is, the individual resolution inside Akira's character. Yes, he grew a lot so as his brothers and sisters, but him as a challenger of defeat wasn't. The story ended just as it is. No even resolution for the viewers to make. The actual action of change that is supposed to come out after the death of their sister did not surface that much. The idea was, but the realistic movement of emotion did not. That's why I say, something lacks. But really, i rated it 9 because it's a wonderful movie. Naturally visualized. And the perfect combo of symbols was very clever. KUDOS direct Hirokazu Koreeda! ^_^