An epic, richly understated contemporary drama of friendship and relationships told through the lives of four Japanese women. Winner of acting and screenwriting awards at the Locarno Film Festival 2015.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
This masterful character study, lauded when it premiered at Locarno last year, earns every minute of its five-hour duration in the same way a great novel consumes its reader. Four women, in their thirties, grasp onto their close friendship as their private and professional lives are tested: there’s Sakurako, a housewife and mother; Akari, a stressed nurse; Fumi, on the surface comfortably married and employed; and Jun, entrenched in bitter divorce proceedings. Deeply empathetic towards its cast of ordinary Japanese – real people who, contrary to the opinion that this film could have been a series, are patently invisible in this so-called golden age of TV – Happy Hour allows each word, gesture and glance to breathe and exhale through the possibilities of long-form cinema. Director Hamaguchi Ryusuke, an intelligent scenarist, fills the narrative with absorbing, tactile conversations and interactions, which, taken at length, reveal many shades of the female experience – and over time an escape route from the patriarchy the flawed yet indelible women of this exceptional drama face. Like their realisations, the film’s rewards come slowly but surely, and are immense. — Tim Wong
“[Happy Hour] is a film that doesn’t rely on having one idea, but many. I could have kept on watching it building further layers for another five and a half hours. The unusual way in which the director allows most of his scenes time to develop, to grow and transform, makes this film about love, friendship and balance, one of a kind.” — Matías Piñeiro
Run-time listed above includes a 15 minute intermission