Directed by Koji Fukada
Toshio hires Yasaka to work in his workshop. But then this old acquaintance, who has just been released from prison, begins to meddle in Toshio’s family life…
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★★★½ review by preston on Letterboxd
"A bit weird, right?"; "I couldn't really say". Tadanobu Asano is weird, a sallow, impeccably formal figure in dress shirt or snow-white overalls - taken off to reveal a blood-red top at a critical moment - hovering first in the background of frames ("You're putting us off," says the mother, embarrassed) then in the background of the story. Guilt leads to smothering, God quietly drops out of the picture, a victim's only power is to be a victim, slapping her own face by way of epiphany. The staging can be clumsy, especially in the second half (the young man is a contrivance, seemingly oblivious to the effect all his plot exposition is having), but the undercurrents keep it going and the sadness, in the end - after the harmonium tries and fails to play titular deus ex machina - is profound.
★★★★ review by thebestzest on Letterboxd
This film really made me appreciate silence, and simplicity in film. The Western tradition always seems to lean towards packing as much into a frame as possible, and to get as much coverage as possible. But Asian cinema always seems to make such good use of silence, emptiness, and staging everything in a single frame rather than getting singles of everyone.
Fukada also made a lot of risky moves in this film, while I won't spoil anything I will say that I was constantly muttering 'No way' and 'As if' under my breath for the duration of the film.
The pacing was fantastic, and emotionally this was one of the more engaging films I've seen at MIFF 2016 so far.
★★★★½ review by TheMovieWaffler.com on Letterboxd
As a study of grief and how we handle it, Harmonium is a worthy companion to Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room and Todd Field's In the Bedroom, and Tsutsui's portrayal of a mother broken of both heart and spirit will tear your soul out.
★★★½ review by Robert Woods on Letterboxd
Japanese family drama that super dark real quick half way through. Unexpected. Kind of a morality play, the open ending is frustrating but apt.
★★★★ review by cinemagazine on Letterboxd
..."En daar schuurt Fukada met dit psychologisch drama heel voorzichtig tegen het horrorgenre aan, wat niet ongebruikelijk is in de Japanse cinema waar kruisbestuiving van genres altijd op de loer ligt. In het geval van ‘Harmonium’ pakt dit goed uit; de alledaagse composities, de eenvoudige montage en het natuurlijke spel van de acteurs resoneren mooi met de licht onwerkelijke ondertoon en de afstandelijke sfeer, waardoor het verder aan de kijker wordt overgelaten zijn vragenlijstje te beantwoorden."
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