Four women. All in their 30s. They all have different marital and work status, but in their mature friendship, they could open up to each other about anything. Or so they thought. A sudden, unexpected confession by one of them causes turbulence in the group, and their life problems and frustrations slowly start to come to the surface. They are all pushed - some gently and some not - to take a deep look inside themselves. A slow-burning epic that compassionately follows these women and their rediscovery of life and love. One should not be intimidated by its runtime: it is worth it.
( 315 min. )
Available in the US
Available for a limited time
▷About the Filmmaker - Learn more about the director Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Japanese with English subtitles
...its length is entirely justified, indeed richly and deeply filled. Hamaguchi is a genius of scene construction, turning the fierce poetry of painfully revealing and pugnaciously wounding dialogue into powerful drama that’s sustained by a seemingly spontaneous yet analytically precise visual architecture.
Buoyed by four captivating performances from its unheralded actresses, Happy Hour is 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.
The concept for the film “Happy Hour” was born from “Ryusuke Hamaguchi Impromptu Acting Workshop in Kobe” which was held for five months from September 2013 through February 2014. The workshop was for people from all backgrounds including those with no acting experience. A total of 17 people, men and women of various ages, passed the three auditions and they took several lessons on “how to act in front of camera” with the objective of making a film. Two thirds of them didn’t have any acting experience, but they spent high-quality time at the workshop and I could see huge potential in them for the upcoming filming. The idea of this movie originally came from meeting the four women in their 30s in the audition. It is uncommon for those women in their late 30s, who have work and family with no experience in acting, to participate in this kind of workshop. “Happy Hour” is a fictitious story, but it is all connected with their great desire to show who they are through acting and to connect with others that is fostered in everyday life, as well as its flip side, that is, “a cruelty of life.” They made me want to write a script for them. In this film, what happens to them is cruel, but it may be clichéd. But throughout the events, I captured their agony and real selves. The long nights that changed their lives can happen to anybody. I hope the audience, through the screen, can identify their honest way of living without being a slave to convention with their own.