In the past weeks, the film Harmonium (Futchi ni Tatsu) was being broadcasted in Dutch cinema. The film has been watched, so it’s time for a review!
Harmonium, directed by Koji Fukuda, already drew my attention ever since seeing the trailer. At first, it seems to be a fairly simple story about a Japanese family that encounters relatively normal problems when a friend of their father rings their doorbell. That on its own already sounds like an interesting story, but surprises the watcher as the story makes a complete 180 into an unexpected direction.
Toshio Suzuoka (Kanji Furutachi) has his own metalworking company at home, which he took over from his father. He’s married to the protestant Akié (Mariko Tsutsui) and has a daughter named Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa/Kana Mahiro). Hotaru has a passion for playing the harmonium and is getting ready to prepare for a performance. One day, an old acquaintance of Toshi is standing at their doorsteps, his old friend Yasaka Kusataro (Tadanobu Asano). After a long time hiding from society, Yasaka asks Toshio if he has a job and a place to stay for him. Toshio grants him these, and for the short time it lasts, this decision has a huge impact for the family.
The film shows how a seemingly happy and normal family isn’t always about roses. There’s a lack of communication amongst the family members, and that made it feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, however, it made me curious to see where this was leading towards, now with Yasaka as part of the family. At first, it seemed to be a positive change, but nothing was further from the truth. There were a lot of secrets between the two old friends. The religious aspect of Akié made it even more interesting, seeing how most of Japan is into Shintoism. So instead of seeing temple visits, Akié would go to a church with her daughter. This makes it a little shocking when the relationship between Yasaka and Akié becomes closer with a nice starting point, but completely falters in the end.
The film was exciting because it leaves you kind of confused. After seeing Harmonium, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what Koji Fukuda was thinking about when making this movie. It’s thrilling, realistic yet sometimes completely unbelievable. Unfortunately, because the ending is so confusing, there’s not a real closure. So, if you were planning on watching it, be prepared to try and find each and every detail hidden! These are mostly found within the dialogues, but even then it’s hard to put 1 and 1 together.