I prefer to watch movies, even very lengthy movies, in one sitting. Sadly, work and life stuff meant that I had to break this up into three parts. And I liked it. And, although I couldn't do the whole thing in one go, I suspect it wouldn't feel like the mammoth task it is. There are some wonderful main scenes, strung together by an interesting look at the lives of the main characters.
Rather lengthy, but absolutely worth it, for its delicate attention to the complex sensibility of woman's life in a traditional society, for its beautiful calligraphy revealing deep, meaningful communication within a society where expectations of formal respect can seem to freeze the human dimension within rigid rules. Spellbinding!
Perhaps the joke of the title is that during the film’s 5+ hours we get only 60 minutes of happiness. The film then takes those 60 minutes (from the beginning) and sets them on edge: the gentle men that brought us peace, seen another way, are selfish and abusive, and a quiet happiness turns into pathetic silence. Even faces, initially curious and pleasant, become grotesque—so grossly inquisitive as to seem asleep.
A subtly intellectual drama about four friends each unlearning and estranging to stand better in her own two feet. Its heaviness feels light but never fails to connect to the heart or mind. It would be enriching to converse or interact with these characters; I can't imagine Americans ever communicating like this. Endearing work from beautiful actors. Perhaps "happy hour" describes the dawn of living authentically.
I enjoy long films and it took three sittings to watch this epic. Slow in parts, especially the group discovery session. On the whole a great insight into Japanese marital strife and the way in which the characters had no personality, complained little and expected even less.
I’ll admit my attention often drifted in the first quarter (lingering shots) but by the last hour I was thoroughly engaged - I even wanted to spend a little longer in everyone’s company. Like walking back home from your friend’s house after a great night, and the subsequent emptiness. I saw fragments of myself in Jun’s husband and it terrified me. Kobe looks beautiful!
One could seek out similarities to Ozu, Rohmer, Bergman, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Toyko Sonata, maybe some Rivette, maybe even Mike Leigh given Happy Hour's workshopped script. But seeking precedents would be irrelevant, because Happy Hour plays like a miracle. And miracles don't have precedents.
I loved a lot about this film: the focus on the female friendships, the truth revealed in those quiet moments (walking down the street, playing games), and the patience. A film that did try my patience, but eventually rewarded it with an intense understanding. Although I did find myself flagging a little towards the end, I would still recommend it to the fullest terms.
It may be a decade before this major Japanese film is fully appreciated, but for now it'll have to be a secret masterpiece appreciated by only a few (ignore IMDb). Neither sentimental nor cliched, the film focuses on the lives of four 37yo women whose marriages have either collapsed or may be about to collapse. It's stylistically simplistic but the director's use of movement, sound and colour is remarkably assured.
While it took a few moments to calm my internal expectations of the rhythms of filmed narratives, the privilege of watching the lived rhythms of this small world community soothed me. That’s right, even while slipping into the quotidian pain of disappointment and delusion, so convincingly portrayed. Full characters like these needed the five plus hours to move beyond implications to presentations. Wonderful.