After failing her university entrance exam, Sakuko is invited by her aunt Mikie to spend summer vacation in a beautiful seaside town. Sakuko gets to know the people of the town, including Takashi, a shy relative of her childhood friend.
The film follows the follies that ensue when a man and his wife shack up with a family that owns a printing press in their building, the husband takes it over, and the couple begin inviting a motley crew of friends.
In the not distant future Japan has again experienced a nuclear incident and is gradually becoming uninhabitable. The entire population has to evacuate before being deluged by radiation ... See full summary »
Mizuki's husband (Yusuke) drowned at sea three years ago. When he suddenly comes back home, she is not that surprised. Instead, Mizuki is wondering what took him so long. She agrees to let Yusuke take her on a journey.
An Indonesian town by the sea has been ruined by war and tsunami. A man is found on the coast there by Atsuko and her son Takashi. They are working in disaster recovery. The man speaks poor... See full summary »
A family of three, comprised of a husband, wife and a young daughter, lead a routine and unspectacular life. The stillness is shattered occasionally by the young girl's practice on the harmonium and more unusually by the arrival of an acquaintance of the man. Apparently seeking to repay a debt and make up for lost time the new arrival is soon both a guest at the family home and an employee of their workshop. All hell breaks loose and no one is chaste.Written by
The director Koji Fukada was present at the screening of "Harmonium" at the Ghent Film Festival, where the movie was in the official competition selection. During a Q&A following the screening, he revealed that the Japanese title "Fuchi ni tatsu" could best be translated as "Standing on the edge", but the translation didn't quite have the same nuance. That's why he changed the international title to "Harmonium", referring to the musical instrument, but also because there was the wordplay on "harmony", which is an important element in the film. The use of the harmonium as a characteristic feature was a distinct choice, as the director saw it as a symbol of the traditional Japanese family. See more »
This is the second film Kôji Fukada has made about a stranger insinuating himself into a seemingly calm family. The stranger first starts working for the family in their home business, then he moves in to their home, and then ties between the stranger and the family are revealed and exploited. Kanji Furutachi played the stranger in the first one, *Hospitalité*. He plays the family man in this one. I like this one better.
Any time one of a character's introductory scenes consists of bad eating-acting you have the most simplistic of character definitions: the character is an idiot, with a bad moon rising. Both the family man and the stranger are introduced this way. They both turn out bad. No surprise. The first act of this film is full of bad indie nonsense, but after the lame setup material is out of the way, including Asano's snorefest of a background story speech that sets things in motion, the film finds it rhythm. And it's frighteningly good. And only then does it become unpredictable. There's a character swap about halfway through, and trying to figure out the relationship and motivations really put me on edge. The second half of the film is walking on razor blades.
Asano has pretty much jumped the shark, imo. He's played this character a hundred times. I don't think he does anything special here, but he's not bad. Kanji Furutachi is a good creep. In the first act he tries to act like a creep and fails. In the second half he becomes a creep and is awesome. But the star of this film is Mariko Tsutsui as the wife. Her face is hard-coded for WTF sadness. She does the Japanese thing of remaining calm in the face of super-WTF-ness, wonderfully. There are several big moments, impact moments, in the film where if I were her my head would have exploded. I had no idea how she would react. She's fantastic. The opposite of acting. She looks like she's processing the information given to her for the first time--not like she's acting the part of processing information. Bravo! When you see what happens to the kid it's funny, sad, super weird and then some. It remains understated which doubles the funny, sad, super weird and then some of it.
I have no idea what the ending says. It felt abstract and lame but didn't spoil things for me. I highly recommend the film to those who aren't bothered by bad eating-acting, or may not notice bad indie cliché scenes, and to those who are forgiving of bad script writing and acting during a film's setup phase.
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