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Hamonium is a dark drama from acclaimed
Kôji Fukada (Hospitalitéstyle="">). It was the winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury
Prize at the
Cannes Film Festival. The film is executive produced by Koichiro
Bean, Fantastic Girls).
The reserved Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) is taken
unexpected life territory when his brother Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano)
from his lengthy stay in prison to live with his brother, alongside
wife Akie (Mariko Tsutsui) and their daughter Hotaru (Momone
aims to give his brother a chance at a new life with his family. It
simple transition for him or his family but they each intend to welcome
into their home.
Toshio's brother went to prison for assisting in
and murder of a man. Yasaka attempts to weave himself back into the
life of his
brother in ways which extend beyond Toshio's comfort. Akie and Yasaka
have romantic feelings for each other. It causes a rift in his
Matters are made worse when Toshio and Akie find
Hotaru, bleeding profusely at the side of the road with Yasaka standing
her. Did Yasaka beat her or was there a tragic accident? Both Toshio
ponder that question. Yasaka quietly slips away.
Years later, the story picks up with Toshio and
for the now adult Hotaru (Kana Mahiro). She was paralyzed from the
and has limited mobility and speech. The family drifts by together with
unspoken sadness and anger. Toshio wonders if or when they might meet
brother again and discover what happened to his daughter that day. As
unfolds, Hamonium offers more mystery and surprises as the
events take one startling turn after another.
This is a remarkably well produced feature film.
For an independent
feature from Japan, it has a strong production aesthetic and many
aspects to it. The music score by Hiroyuki Onogawa (Labyrinth of
fits the established mood of the story impeccably. The cinematography
Ken-ichi Negishi (Japan's Year Zero), which is dark and
likewise fits the depressing tone of the filmmaking.
Written and directed by Kôji Fukada, who
made the delightful
comedic feature Hospitalité style="">(which I also href="https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/54378/hospitalit/?___rd=2">reviewed),
the acclaimed filmmaker takes a sharp u-turn from the comedic delights
feature into significantly darker, moodier territory here. Yet he has
to create another excellent feature with great storytelling,
craft. Hamonium again demonstrates why Fukada is
amongst the most
interesting voices in independent Japanese cinema today.
The experience of watching a haunting dramatic
work like Hamonium
is powerful. This is a film which will stay with audiences. It
to a quiet conclusion which some may overlook as being too abstract or
Yet it's in quiet directorial moments like these, when the final frame
film comes to a close, that one also recognizes the brilliance of the
Harmonium arrives on DVD in North America
Film Movement. Presented on DVD in the original 1.66:1 widescreen
aspect ratio, the release offers a somewhat subdued color scheme and
particularly impressive DVD presentation. The film doesn't appear very
clear on this DVD. It's not terrible but it lacks the kind of detail
clarity which is usually found on Film Movement's titles.
The film has a merely acceptable presentation
is damped by the average quality encode. The cinematography would have
better suited to a Blu-ray release. Unfortunately, the film only got a
the US (despite Blu-ray releases having been produced in Japan and the
The audio is presented in Japanese 5.1 Dolby
sound. Despite being a surround sound presentation on this release,
barely any surround activity. The sound design was implemented in such
that only the music and minor sound effects utilize the surrounds.
it's a decent audio presentation with easy to understand dialogue. It's
dialogue heavy film and this audio presentation puts all the emphasis
on that. It's
not too surprising for an indie drama.
On the plus side, the release has excellent
subtitles which are free of grammatical and spelling errors. style="">
New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) Interview
Kanji Furutachi (33 min.), who discusses his part in the film and
collaborations with director Fukada (from the downright comedic to the
this serious drama).
Birds (2017, 8 min.) is a short film from
Koji Fukada produced after Harmonium, which focuses on an
between three people that leads to some surprising directions as the
dispute leads them all to a quirky situation. With English subtitles.
quirky comedic short which entertains with its zany scenario and
Film Movement Trailers promoting other releases
Kôji Fukada is an excellent filmmaker who
another superb effort. The film is much different from his previous
work but it
is every bit as well made. Fans of Japanese filmmaking should seek out
award-winning drama. It's an engaging, intelligent, and compelling work
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.