A powerful affirmation of the immersive potential of cinematic narrative, Happy Hour is a slow-burning epic chronicling the sentimental journey of four thirtysomething women towards a new understanding of life and love. With gentle irony the film’s title signals both the elusiveness of the peace-of-mind sought by the women as well as the boldly extended five-hour-plus running time so crucial to the rare intimacy of character achieved by director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Happy Hour is that rarest of ensemble films, among the few to democratically, patiently and purposefully add subtle complexity to each of its main characters. Much of the rich nuance underlying the women’s constant transformation over the course of the film certainly derives from the unusual collaboration between the relatively inexperienced actresses and Hamaguchi, who together defined the characters in a series of workshop sessions that preceded the film’s eight-month shoot. Pointedly, Happy Hour itself contains a crucial workshop, early in the film, where the four friends are taught by a handsome guru to listen to each other’s bodies and embrace a different kind of interrelational communication. Happy Hour uses its patiently yet never ostentatiously or unnecessarily extended running time to teach the audience this same lesson: to learn to see, hear, sense the indeterminate secret space between people, the distance whose measure may be friendship, deception or love.
Winner of awards at major international festivals—including Locarno, where stars Sachie Tanaka, Hazuki Kikuchi, Maiko Mihara and Rira Kawamura shared the Golden Leopard for Best Actress—Happy Hour has brought new attention to the work and career of one of Japan’s most talented young directors. In residence as a Fellow at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Ryusuke Hamaguchi will return to the HFA in 2017 for a retrospective of his earlier fiction and documentary work. – Haden GuestSpecial Thanks: Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.
$12 Special Event Tickets
Ryusuke Hamaguchi in person
Saturday November 12 at 3pm
Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. With Sachie Tanaka, Hazuki Kikuchi, Maiko Mihara
Japan 2015, DCP, color, 317 min. Japanese with English subtitles
The film will be presented with a 20-minute intermission, during which light refreshments will be served.
DCP courtesy the filmmaker.