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Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi • 2015 • Japan
Starring Sachie Tanaka, Hazuki Kikuchi, Maiko Mihara
A powerful affirmation of the immersive potential of cinema, HAPPY HOUR is a slow-burning epic chronicling the emotional journey of four thirtysomething women in the misty seaside city of Kobe, Japan. As they navigate the unsteady currents of their work, domestic, and romantic lives, a sudden, unexpected rift opens that propels each to a new, richer understanding of life and love. Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s wise, precisely observed, compulsively watchable drama of friendship and midlife awakening runs over five hours, yet the leisurely duration is not an indulgence but a strategy that creates a novelistic space where everyday moments become charged with possibility. The result is a subtle, emotionally intense, and spectacularly complex rendering of the details of daily life in which ideas and feelings are swayed by the unseen forces of friendship and love and buffeted by the weight of deception, loyalty, and tradition.