1 - 7, 2018
ORGANISED BY THE AUSTRIAN-JAPANESE SOCIETY (ÖJG)
MARGARETENSTRASSE 78, 1050 VIENNA
Tuesday, October 3, 8:00 p.m.
Fuchi ni tatsu
Japan 2016, 118 min.
Apart from the jury award at the Un certain regard section at Cannes the film was also honored with several awards in Japan. Asano won Best Actor at the Asian Film Awards just as co-star Tsutsui won her award in the corresponding category at the Mainichi Film Concours. Kinema Junpo also nominated this work as Best Film.
A skillfully constructed disintegration of an apparently normal family: Toshio and his wife Akie haven’t been a happy couple for a long time, but their daughter Hotaru remains the shared center of their lives. When Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano dressed in menacing white), an old acquaintance of Toshio, turns up out of the blue, Toshio not only takes him on at his workshop but also invites him to stay at their house. This throws the family situation increasingly out of balance. It’s not just that Yasaka seems to have a rather dark past: Toshio succumbs to the spell of the stranger he knew long ago, while his wife is also strangely drawn to their new guest. Long lasting traces of irreparable guilt add an unpleasant element to the situation, until the point is reached where the tense atmosphere must inevitably erupt.
Accompanied by the ominous sounds of the eponymous instrument, Harmonium portrays the slow and oppressive breakdown of a family whose members cannot bear the steadily growing strain any longer. They find themselves, as the Japanese title reveals, “Standing on the Edge” in their desperate attempt to undo the past.
Director Kōji Fukada was concerned with this theme—where a self-contained system that appears to work well in itself reveals its inner fragility when it’s opened up by an external influence—in his previous films, Hospitalité (2010) and Au revoir l’été (2013). But he never before tightened the screws as consistently and consequentially as in this film. The jurors in Cannes for the Un certain regard section awarded Harmonium the Jury Prize.