Happy Hour

Focused on the daily lives and labors of four 30-something women living in Kobe, Happy Hour refreshingly breathes space, contemplation, and new life into the domestic drama of the everyday. Jun, the center of the group, decides to leave her husband, shocking her three close friends Akari, Sakurako, and Fumi, whose marriages are also in various states of upheaval. As the divorce case goes to trial, depicted in heartbreaking, clear-eyed exactness, the quartet begin to seek answers to questions they never saw coming. Hamaguchi developed the script from acting workshops with mostly non-professionals, including the four leads, who took home a collective Best Actress prize at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival for their sensitive, subtle portrayals of these women at a major crossroads. “Happy Hour is far more than an intimate drama. Its spectacularly complex grasp of the details of daily life, which are seemingly tethered by mighty cinematic cables to the vast societal structures below, presents private lives and a political world, a way of life in which ideas and feelings are dominated by the force of law and the weight of tradition.”—Richard Brody, The New Yorker. “A fascinating, towering confection of contradictions: a modest epic; a work that simultaneously resembles both contemporary television drama and art cinema at its airiest; a film you feel like you’ve seen before but that somehow never ceases to surprise. I suspect we’ll be talking about this one for some time to come—and not because of its length.”—Dan Sullivan, Film Comment. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Appears in: Japanese Currents

Genres: Drama