Harmonium | Chicago Reader

Harmonium

120 minutes 2016

After a self-employed metalworker takes in an old friend who's just completed a prison sentence for murder, the friend ingratiates himself with the man's young daughter and devout Christian wife, proving himself a more sympathetic listener than his emotionally distant host. I hate to reveal what happens next in this absorbing Japanese domestic drama; the plot hinges on several big surprises that force you to reevaluate how you feel about all the major characters. Writer-director Kôji Fukada (Hospitalité) maintains a somber tone throughout as well as a subtle visual style, rooted in patient long takes, that encourages deep reflection on the themes of grief and forgiveness. Tadanobu Asano, who plays the ex-con, has rarely been better, and Kanji Furutachi and Mariko Tsutsui are heartbreaking as the husband and wife. In Japanese with subtitles.

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