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Family Romance LLC Movie Review: It Is A Japanese Gem



Family Romance  LLC(Mubi)

Starring  Yuichi Ishii,Mahiro Tanimoto

Directed  by  Werner  Herzog

Rating: *** ½

For  Werner Herzog  cinema is a medium that  is meant to carry forward Man’s  ever-renewable conversation with Nature. This slender masterly  portrait  of  human relationships is  played  out mostly in a  blossoming  park filled with luscious flowers  where we meet the shy 13-year old girl Mahiro meeting her father Yuichi for the  first time.

At  first the girl is quiet (don’t strain to hear  the background music,props  are not a strong point in this sparse stripped-down drama). Then she begins to  open up,sharing her pictures and  thoughts with her ‘father’ who, it soon turns out, is not her  father but a professional con-artiste  hired  by her mother  to pose as her father.

The  brief but  overwhelming film plays out  in a tenor that is the opposite  of  Indian films  about  ‘hired families’  such as the Tamil Minsara Kanna where a familial charade is milked for humour. Family Romance LLC  is a  profoundly tragic  story of a society that is so  splintered and  fractured that  it seeks  normal  family values in play-acting.

The wonderful thing  about this uniquely conceptualized  ‘family drama’ is  that the main characters are all played by non-actors.So what we see are  non-actors  ‘acting’ roles  of  actors.  The  simulated  relationships  and  the attempt to create  a  false  narrative of  kinship around lonely lives, are  underlined  by a remote sense  of  hope and optimism.

While  heavyweight  director Werner Herzog  concentrates  on  constructing  the  father-daughter relationship through random conversations and pregnant  pauses, which are then  mercilessly  dismantled, there are other  professional commitments  for  Yuichi  to fulfill, such as making  a woman who once woman a lottery  ,experience the same  joy again, and  making a young girl feel important  among her social-media friends.

This  is  a  film that doesn’t aim to achieve any pointed  sense  of achievement.  But  its seeming pointlessness, its  lack of cinematic consciousness,  is what makes this  Japanese gem so  endearing .

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