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. As they navigate the unsteady currents of their work, domestic, and romantic lives a sudden, unexpected rift opens between that propels each to a new, richer understanding of life and love. Filmmaker 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 to create a novelistic space for everyday moments to become charged with possibility that yields a subtle emotional intensity rarely possible in a standard-length film. Happy Hour is far more than just an ordinary melodrama. It is a spectacularly complex and fiercely poetic 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.
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.