From the director of ‘Au Revoir L’Ete’ and ‘Hospitalité’, Koji Fukada’s HARMONIUM is an off-kilter take on that most venerable of Japanese genres — the family drama, which screened to great acclaim at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury prize.
In this slow-burn Japanese thriller Toshio invites an old acquaintance, Yasaka (just released from prison) to come and live with his family. Toshio lives above the small workshop that he owns with his wife, Akie, and their daughter, Hotaru.
It is not clear why Toshio offers Yasaka a job; it doesn’t seem to be out of friendship or goodwill. Akie and Hotaru are wary of the new lodger, but with his persistent charm and goodwill, Yasaka befriends Toshio’s wife Akié and as Yasaka starts teaching their daughter Hotaru to play the harmonium, the family’s fragile domestic bliss is forever altered.
Director Kôji Fukada is a master of incremental development, drawing the audience into the unfolding outcome.
Dir. Koji Fukada, Japan/France, 2016, 120 mins, subtitles
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Mariko Tsutsui, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Momone Shinokawa, Kana Mahiro