Harmonium (2016)


HARMONIUM-1I’m not really sure what this film was trying to say and it took just a bit too long to not say it. Toshio and Akié are a married couple with a young daughter, Hotaru. One day a neat, quiet man, Yasaka, arrives and Toshio gives him work and invites him to stay in their house. Toshio’s demeanour and offhand furtiveness show that there is more to this connection than meets the eye and his generosity is not necessarily being done through friendship.

Yasaka settles in to life with the family, helping Hotaru learn harmonium, befriending Akié and opening up to her about his recent release from prison. This all seems benign but there is something unsettling about Yasaka’s imperturbability, his gradual infiltration of the family unit. The camera allows us to watch without comment and there was a moment of surprise for me when the menace of the character first became apparent.

I won’t say what happens except that it may not end up quite where you think. The film drags itself out a fair bit, I think it could have been better paced to create some highs and lows in the narrative without losing its rather lovely observational style. I think it was about the sacrifices of parenting – the breakfast table conversation right at the start about baby spiders eating their mother has some resonance later, I suspect – and the vagaries of fate and retribution. I’m not sure though.

Bechdel test – pass
3 stars

One thought on “Harmonium (2016)

  1. Pingback: After the Storm | fillums

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