Quick-Thoughts: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour (2015)

“I heard I was born because of you.”

If his Academy-award winner couldn’t prove it, then one of his previous feature-lengths — of the Goliath size for a portion of three — most certainly will: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi makes it uniquely easy to get deeply invested into the conversations that he writes for the screen, ones that appear so authentic though given how mannered the performance communication is yet, at the same time, how prone they are to counterbalance conduct with the sharp ends of frequent bluntness depicting a sort of cultural elegance — or negligence? There is a relevancy that I seem to get out of watching these biased-ass snippets of wisdom coming from the mouths of contrasting fictional personalities, while also seeing their true colors reveal in a much slower motion than I’m used to in cinema, offering a likelier unforgettable experience, as is Happy Hours.

Friendship is about learning how to understand one another further, right? Despite that this understanding is just one to give you a deeper face-slap understanding that understanding somebody is an understanding that can never become remotely close to completed — or understood, haha — and if anything the more you work on getting there, sometimes the farther it’ll just take you back, but that’s the bargain of wanting intimacy to begin with. In Happy Hours, we periodically, yet with controlled intention and structure, see how much the distance between the characters’ understanding of each other agitates the stability of their relationships. 

From the new and innocent to the ruptured mature couples held on by routine and mindless perseverance, Hamaguchi uses the climate of institutionalized marriage as an example from mainstream culture that does not compute swimmingly with the path that often self-guided humans tend to take. Evidently, Happy Hours is an emotional pain to watch, but an almost endlessly illuminating one at that worth every minute of your time, especially for its early-on breathtaking interconnected sequence between a seminar and a dinner gathering which immaculately sets forth the inciting incident. The climax is just a real sucker-punch too. Clubbing…

“A living hell awaits, but I’m fine with that because I know what makes me happy.” 

People moment. A part of life is about living to accept being not the best person you could be. Happiness first. Scary?

Verdict: A-

“Happy Hour” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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