Japanese movies are always in the lead in depicting life in its simplest forms where mostly, nothing really happens. Take a good look at Drive My Car (2021) or the classic old, My Neighbor Totoro (1988), it's meant to showcase the modesty of how one's life can unfold, and it's okay. Call Me Chihiro becomes a film that shares the same genre, a warm melancholic story of someone who never really knows if she really belongs.
The story follows a woman called Chihiro, a former prostitute who slowly rebuilds her life by working as a simple employee at a small bento quaint in a seaside town. She brings warmth to whoever comes her way. First, a quiet homeless man who has been picked on by a couple of highschoolers because he smells bad. Chihiro offers him a bento and takes him home for a bath scrubs his back, washes his hair, and gives him her clothes. Occasionally, she would bring bento to have lunch together until one day Chihiro found his unalive body in the place where no one's ever thought of visiting. She proceeded to bury him on a quiet evening and went on with her life, having dinner by herself in her home.
The movie carries on with other people who Chihiro has met and makes friends with along the way; two highschoolers, a wise blind woman, and a tiresome young boy. Chihiro also reconnects with her ex co-worker and her former boss. At the end, all Chihiro's acquaintances are gathered together for what seems like a final goodbye, as she continues to wander through her lonely but never empty life, never really feeling the loneliness evaporate even with an atmosphere ever so comforting and full of life.
Chihiro would be perfectly described as someone who is rather odd but with a soul purest as water. She is open about her past as a sex worker, quirky yet friendly around strangers of all ages, bubbly yet mysterious which makes her become even attractive and eventually, popular. It's interesting because you can easily notice how Chihiro is the epitome of loneliness. She always says that she's an alien from another planet, never finding the click in her life. Yet she fills her emptiness by being with other people who also feel empty. It's a quality that just feels warm, because instead of being low-spirited, she is a beaming beacon of light and hope where everyone feels alive just by coexisting around her.
Chihiro's character is full of paradoxes; she was neither attached to anything nor isolated from them. She's physically present, but emotionally nowhere, which makes her easy to be with. If anything, I could describe the mood's tone as longing and airy, like Chihiro who floats and wanders through life.
Lovely but so lonely. I think that sentence is the embodiment of Call Me Chihiro and adequate to express how you'd feel when the credit rolls.